Fire service anger after hostel blaze

SAFETY is to be reviewed at an Ipswich hostel after residents had to be forcibly evacuated by the fire service today.Firefighters who arrived at the YMCA hostel, in Wellington Street, Ipswich, this morning to tackle a blaze in a second floor flat faced having to get dozens of people out of the building themselves because hardly anyone had been evacuated.

SAFETY is to be reviewed at an Ipswich hostel after residents had to be forcibly evacuated by the fire service today.

Firefighters who arrived at the YMCA hostel, in Wellington Street, Ipswich, this morning to tackle a blaze in a second floor flat faced having to get dozens of people out of the building themselves because hardly anyone had been evacuated.

The officer leading the operation criticised the management of the hostel for not having adequate fire safety proceedures and they in turn have promised an investigation.

The fire started in a microwave in a second floor room and when fire crews arrived at 3.45am they had to force their way into other rooms and make around 40 residents, including many foreign nationals, leave.


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Sub-officer Steve Rhind said: "There was a lack of co-ordinated evacuation.

"The people they have got in there really need an explanation of what to do. We are trying to cut fire deaths and maybe that is not being impressed on them, it's a communication thing.

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"They need to tighten up their fire safety and make sure that the people there have some kind of safety briefing on the implication of the fire alarm and get basic fire safety."

Residents on all three floors, many of them believed to be Iraqi's, had to be evacuated to safety.

"They came out in dribs and drabs," said Mr Rhind.

"The fire safety department will be coming down on them (the YMCA).

"The potential for fatalities in these buildings is huge, you could easily have had half a dozen people overcome by smoke,"

Tony Bromley, manager of the YMCA hostel said all residents were given safety information when they arrived but that they would work to improve safety where needed.

"They are told and have information inside the flats telling them what to do," he said.

"We do have fire alarm training during the week on occasion.

"If we have problems here then we will have to improve them.

"We will do what they recommend without a shadow of a doubt."

Did you witness the fire? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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