As we remember the 52 people who lost their lives in the London bombings on 7 July 2005, it is also a time to remember and thank all those who helped the many people injured that day: whether firefighters, control staff, other blue light service colleagues including police and ambulance, London Transport staff, or the many members of the public.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) has issued a press release, where LFB Commissioner, Ron Dobson, who was Gold Commander during the incident reflects on the bravery of responders, and reviews the changes made to equipment, training, and policies to enable the service to respond to any future major incidents. Commissioner Dobson said: “As a Brigade we will take time to remember the 52 lives that were lost, including a member of our staff but also the incredible acts of bravery by firefighters and other emergency service colleagues.
“I’m incredibly proud of our firefighters and control room staff who dealt with the traumatic incidents on the 7 July 2005. They went above and beyond the call of duty. It wasn’t just the first responders who showed strength and courage that day, London as a city pulled together and over the years, lots of stories have surfaced about members of the public helping the injured and distressed.”
The London Fire Commissioner says that, 10 years on, firefighters are better equipped than ever to deal with another 7/7 with a number of changes made. These include improvements to radio communications, equipment, training with partner agencies, mobilising, and greater discretion given to firefighters to act outside standard procedures, where necessary and justifiable. All of these help firefighters at any emergency, and especially when faced with a large scale incident like those that happened on 7 July 2005.
Changes that have been made include:
- All firefighters have been given a personal hand-held radio with multiple radio channels and a dedicated channel to share information and updates with each other throughout an incident. LFB has doubled the number of radios that can operate in potentially explosive atmospheres.
- The analogue radio system previously fitted to fire engines has been replaced by a modern digital system, which is compatible with radios across the blue light services, offering a greater ability to talk with other agencies involved in emergency response.
- Working with Transport for London, LFB can now communicate across the tube network including in tunnels between stations, while further improvements to the digital radio network in the London Underground allow for a greater number of simultaneous radio transmissions to take place.
- Significant improvements to the way fire services work with colleagues in other emergency services and other agencies have been introduced and refined, including the role out of the national Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP) programme, designed to ensure all emergency services work effectively together when attending a major incident. A number of large scale multi-agency training exercises have also taken place.
- In 2000 LFB introduced the role of inter-agency liaison officers (ILOs) who work with the police, ambulance service, the NHS and the military, acting as tactical advisors to develop incident plans and response arrangements at incidents involving terrorism, firearms, public disorder and natural disasters.
- Every fire engine in London is now equipped with enhanced first aid equipment, including defibrillators, and all firefighters are now trained to deliver a higher level of first aid.
- An additional six fire rescue units (FRUs) have been introduced, taking the number of these units to 14. They are crewed by staff specially trained and equipped to handle complex rescues.
- A specialist team was created in November 2005 to improve LFB’s response to incidents where chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials are suspected or confirmed.
- The introduction of a Unique Reference Number (URN) system by London Underground, gives LFB Control staff the exact location of an incident, enabling resources to be sent to the location where they are most needed.
- The creation of an operational risk assessment process, which enables those in command at an incident to make appropriate use of their professional judgement in circumstances where standard procedures might inhibit firefighters from achieving what is required at the scene.