LFB concludes investigation into fire safety failings at New Providence Wharf
23 January 2023
BACK IN May 2021, a significant fire broke out at the New Providence Wharf apartment building in London. A total of 35 rescues were carried out by firefighters on scene, 22 of them involving fire escape hoods. The fire was declared a major incident. Now, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has concluded its investigation into fire safety failures at the apartment block and issued the findings.
As reported by Fire Safety Matters last year, serious concerns were raised about the fire safety arrangements in the New Providence Wharf apartment building after the major incident took place. At that point, the LFB’s fire safety and legal teams began an investigation to establish if any prosecutable offences had been committed under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
In essence, the investigation focused on why the building’s fire alarm and Automatic Opening Vent systems did not operate properly at the time. During the fire, this resulted in a number of residents not being able to leave their flats. Fire crews attending the location had to carry out rescues as the fire took hold on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the premises.
The LFB committed “significant” resources for the investigation of the fire and the building’s compliance with fire safety laws. Following an extensive investigation, the LFB has found that there was insufficient evidence to pass the evidential test required to bring any prosecutions relating to the fire at New Providence Wharf in May 2021.
As an enforcing authority, the LFB must abide by The Code for Crown Prosecutors, which ensures that any prosecutions brought by the LFB are both fair and proportionate. “In this case, after investing significant time and resource to exhaust all lines of inquiry, we were unable to identify that any offences had been committed under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that would pass the necessary evidential test.”
According to the LFB: “This outcome will understandably be a source of disappointment to the local community who have been greatly impacted by the fire, but it reflects the legal framework within which the Brigade operates.”https://www.fsmatters.com/Report-issued-on-New-Providence-Wharf-fire
Going forward, the LFB will be engaging with the Home Office to consider whether or not there are opportunities to strengthen the regulatory powers of Fire and Rescue Services in order to assist with future investigations.
*Photograph: London Fire Brigade