Fire Update, Website Milestone, Mussels, And ‘Hackney Circle’
Further to my last post, I have received a statement from Consort’s on-site Development Manager Gerald Bernard, following last Fridays meeting between representatives of London Fire Brigade, Consort, Fire Design Solutions, and Nancy’s Pantry:
The cause of the fire was discussed with Nancy’s Pantry alone.
The main points of discussion centred around compartmentalisation, smoke, and operation of the smoke extract systems. The LFB inspectors were happy that there were no breaches to the firestopping, even commenting that where they would normally expect to find a couple of unfinished areas, but that ours are all finished to an above average standard. They noted the gaps around extractor ducting installed by Nancy’s pantry, as having contributed to the smoke which entered the service corridor, but believed the majority of the smoke in the service corridor entered via the rear fire escape door, which had been opened (it was thought this may have been opened by fire fighters, or Nancy’s Pantry staff).
No breaches were found that could have allowed smoke into the residential areas, and very little evidence of smoke was found in these areas, only small sooty deposits around a couple of doors and over some wall mounted lights on the lower floors of Raddon. LFB concluded that smoke in these areas must have entered via the doors as people made their way outside, and was possibly related to their own smoke extract systems, though it was unclear how and where these had been operated.
Some smoke from the service corridor had been drawn into the gym, thought to be via its own ventilation system. Which set off fire alarms in the gym, a log of which was recorded on the fire alarm panel behind the Concierge desk. It was concluded that the smoke extract systems in Raddon had operated in the correct manner, but that clearer information on their operation was needed for the future, as fire fighters at the time were unclear as to how to operate it, or whether it was operating.
It was decided that Fire Design Solutions would produce a clear and concise operation manual to be held by the Concierge, and that basic instructions will be produced to be displayed in the lobbies of each building.
All very reassuring I think you will agree. The only thing to add to this statement is regarding the question of how smoke managed to percolate through to other areas of the phase 1 complex. To attempt to solve this riddle, smoke testing will be conducted within Nancy’s Pantry to attempt to replicate a fire situation while observers monitor the movement and spread of smoke. This will be conducted as soon as possible before builders move in to repair the fire damage.
It was only after publishing my last post I realised it was the 100th post on this website since it went live back in November 2011 (on average one post every 10 days). Nearly 3 years later we now have over 750 registered followers (this includes followers of our Twitter account which is directly linked to the website), who have contributed over 120 comments to those 100 posts. We have also had our share of spam comments: To date we have attracted 23,712 spam links that have been added to our website! Fortunately the spam filter caught 99% of them leaving me to catch just a couple of hundred. Bearing in mind that registered followers receive direct emails and so have no need to visit the site, we still attract an average of approximately 600 visitors per month who make over 1000 page views between them. Total page views so far over the life of the website: Over 32,700. And here is the most amazing statistic: Thanks to inquisitive minds and the widespread use of search engines, the website has been visited by residents of 109 countries: Over half of the world total! Who knew Dalston was of such global interest. 😉
Until now the only businesses I have publicised on this website are those resident here in the square. However, my partner Christine (who runs the DSRA Twitter account) and I were recently dining out at Mussel Men, on Kingsland Road in Dalston (a 2 minute walk from the square) when we got chatting with Robin, owner/operator of the business. Conversation came around to the opening deals the businesses here in the square gave to residents, and Robin has decided he would like to do something for us also. Cards are in the process of being printed, but keep an eye on your postbox for an upcoming 2 for 1 special exclusively for Dalston Square residents. If you love mussels (or indeed oysters), you are in for a treat.
Tomorrow sees the launch of Hackney Circle, a free to join, innovative new membership scheme for Hackney residents aged 60 and over. Members will be able to take advantage of weekly special offers and events in the cafes, shops, and services around Dalston Square. All Hackney residents over 60 are invited to become free members of Hackney Circle. Members will receive regular information about events and special offers in the pipeline. Contact Lucy McMenemy for further details on 020 8356 2919 or email Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hackney Circle has been commissioned by Hackney Council and has been devised by The Decorators, a collective of designers. The launch runs from 3pm to 5pm here in the square (including the C.L.R. James Library).
Restaurant Fire Plus Phase 1 Kitchen Ventilation
As I am sure everyone is by now aware, fire gutted Nancy’s Pantry, the children orientated restaurant here in the square, early this past Tuesday morning. The fire started at around 7.30am and was attended by 6 fire tenders and 35 firemen and officers from Shoreditch, Homerton, Stoke Newington, and Islington fire stations. A dozen residents from immediately above the restaurant were evacuated as a precaution, but the fire was contained within the restaurant and fully extinguished by 9.30am. The fire, it seems, was caused by an electrical fault, possibly with a refrigerator or the socket it was plugged into: The fire brigade are investigating and will no doubt report back soon.
In the wake of the fire there have been 3 very important questions asked which I would like to address here:
Why did audible alarms not sound throughout Labyrinth Tower when the fire detectors were triggered? The answer is very simple: There are none (despite the fact that the fire warning instruction signs posted within each block are based on what to do on hearing alarms). There are of course smoke detectors with audible alarms in each and every apartment, but in public areas the smoke detectors have no alarm attached, and for a very good reason: In the event of fire, you are supposed to stay put in your apartment (unless a) the fire is in your apartment, or b) you are instructed to evacuate by fire and/or safety officials). If there were audible alarms throughout the building, people would attempt evacuation without knowing where the fire is, potentially heading in the direction of the fire. If you are unaware of the drill in the event of a fire anywhere in the square, the official fire policy document for Dalston Square is available for download at our discussions forum HERE: Please do read it if you have not already done so.
How did smoke manage to infiltrate the stairwell of Raddon Tower next door? As yet we have no answer as to how the smoke managed to cross from one block to it’s neighbour (something that certainly should not be possible), but this is being investigated and will hopefully be rectified soon: The DSRA will follow this issue over the coming weeks.
Why did the AOV (Automatic Opening Vent) system fail to clear the smoke from Raddon Tower’s stairwell? There was simply insufficient smoke for it to make it from the stairwell into any of the corridors where the smoke detectors would have triggered the system. For those not familiar with this system, check your hallway and you will see a panel somewhere in the wall labelled ‘Smoke Shaft Door’. In the event of the smoke detectors being triggered, these ‘doors’ open to reveal a large vent system. At the same time, powerful fans on the roof of the block kick in to push huge quantities of fresh air down through the stairwell, strong enough to push open the fire doors leading from the stairwell into each and every floor’s corridors, and thereby forcing any smoke in those corridors out into the vent system: Very clever. Remember that it is estimated that at least half (and by some estimates as many as 80%) of all fire deaths are due to the inhalation of smoke rather than burning.
Phase 1 kitchen ventilation
Finally our persistence in pursuing Barratt with regard an extraction system for the kitchens of the restaurants in phase 1 (the eastern side of the square) has borne fruit. Barratt have now submitted plans to Hackney Council to retro-fit a proper, above roof-line, extraction system. Currently all these restaurants simply pump their smoke and fumes into the rear service tunnel (that runs from Gaumont Tower through to Labyrinth Tower) from where it is finding it’s way into lobbies, and up into the residential parts of each block. As is usual with this king of planning application (a visual change to Gaumont Tower as the ducting will be fitted to the outside of the rear of the block), the council is giving the general public the opportunity to comment on the proposal. Residents of Gaumont Tower have received direct communication from the council regarding this, but for other phase 1 residents who have supported our campaign, not received this letter, but who would like the opportunity to comment on the application, the process can be done online HERE. All comments must be in by 26th September so get your comments in soon. For Phase 2 residents who are concerned that they will experience a similar problem when the Japanese restaurant in Thomas Tower opens for business, worry not: You already have a proper extraction system in place.