Government asks BRE to investigate retirement home fire
THE BUILDING Research Establishment (BRE) has been called in by the government to investigate the Beechmere retirement complex fire in Crewe earlier this year.
The retirement complex was destroyed in the fire, and Cheshire Fire and Rescue (CFRS) revealed the building was not fitted with sprinklers. All 150 residents were evacuated and the blaze required a maximum of 16 appliances at its height, and after the fire destroyed most of the building a demolition crew was requested to assist in demolishing areas that were ‘no longer structurally stable’.
The home had only recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, with CFRS now investigating what caused the fire. On the investigation, ITV News asked ‘whether the building adhered to regulation will form part’, while chief fire officer Gus O’Rourke was asked whether the building had been fitted with sprinklers. He stated that ‘it had no sprinkler system’, and that ‘the building should have adhered to the current legislation on fire protection and compartmentation’.
Mr O’Rourke also pointed out that he ‘would not have expected the fire to go through this building as quickly as it did’, with ITV News noting in turn that firefighters had stayed on site throughout the weekend, with a number of road closures expected. Local MP for Crewe and Nantwich Laura Smith said later that ‘serious questions need answering’ and wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for building and fire safety regulations to be reviewed.
Cheshire Live has now reported that BRE have been called in to investigate the fire, which still has ‘no official cause’, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirming to parliamentary candidate Dr Kieran Mullan that BRE would look at ‘the circumstances that allowed the fire to spread’.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick stated: ‘This government is absolutely committed to making our buildings and homes as safe as they can be and it is right we investigate what happened at Beechmere. I want to thank the local community for the support they have shown the residents and Kieran has made plain the strength of local feeling when writing to the housing ministers in my department.’
Dr Mullan added: ‘I know the overwhelming strength of feeling from people locally was that we need to find out exactly what happened and why to prevent anything similar happening again. The government has taken steps to improve fire safety in buildings following the Grenfell tragedy but what happened at Beechmere is different and it is absolutely right it is properly investigated. I will follow this investigation closely and fight to make sure any findings are acted on.’