Video link - Kings Cross Fire London 1987
The dangers associated with firefighting are diverse and can come by complete surprise
even though we all know that a fire has hidden dangers, especially as it takes hold
and starts to multiply. The underground fire at Kings Cross tube station started
small and remained unnoticed for several minutes. So small in fact that when reported
it was dismissed as it could not be seen from the top of the escalator. As the fire
became more visable the fire service was called. and an evacuation route from the
tunnels below was arranged via another escalator to the ticket hall above the burning
Four fire appliances and a turntable ladder were dispatched , A24 Soho
Fire Station was the first on the scene at 19:42, followed shortly by colleagues
from C27 Clerkenwell , A22 Manchester Square and A23 Euston .
The lack of visible flames and seeing only a relatively small fire lulled the fire
fighters into a false sense of security, especially as they had attended many similar
tube fires before.
Firefighters later described the fire as around the size and intensity of a campfire.
Many people in the ticket hall believed that the fire was small and didn’t present
an immediate threat.
Suddenly after some 15 minutes the outbreak burst into life with the speed of an
express train, invading the ticket hall concourse. In total, 31 people died and more
than 60 received injuries ranging from severe burns to smoke inhalation. The fatalities
were among those unable to escape from the ticket hall before succumbing to the effects
of the latter stages of thick smoke and the intense heat.
London Fire Brigade’s Station Officer Colin Townsley from A24 Soho was in charge
of the first due fire engine and was down in the station concourse at the time of
the flashover. As he was making his exit, he was overcome by the smoke. Although
he was later found by his colleagues, efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
It took more than 30 fire engines and over 150 firefighters to control the fire and
bring the incidence to an end.
The Fennel Report:
A public inquiry into the incident was conducted by Mr. Desmond Fennell, Queen’s
Council who was assisted by a panel of four expert advisers. after hearing 91 days
of evidence the investigation's findings prompted the introduction of the Fire Precautions
(Sub-surface Railway Stations) Regulations 1989
These led to: the replacement of all wooden escalators in sub-surface Underground
stations with metal ones. The regulations also called for the
mandatory installation of automatic sprinkler systems and heat detectors for all
escalators, mandatory yearly fire safety training for all station staff and improvements
in coordination with the emergency services. It also placed
Stringent requirements for the paint and equipment allowed to be used in the Underground.