Last night was an extremely busy time for the Service and in particular a demanding period for our Sussex Control Centre (SCC) who received over 80 calls, well over double the usual amount we would expect at this time. The evening shift started with a fire in a roof in Sidley Street Bexhill which attracted 4 appliances and just as crews were bringing this incident to a conclusion at around 20:30hrs SCC began receiving multiple calls to a fire in a residential 3 storey block of flats in Brighton.
Upon arrival, firefighters were confronted by a serious and rapidly escalating fire in the roof; initially firefighters wearing breathing apparatus assisted with the evacuation of residents who were then handed over to the care of SECAMB to be assessed for any injuries, firefighters then continued to search the building until it became unsafe and all crews were evacuated to a safe distance. All the evacuated residents were provided temporary shelter at a local community centre and then provided overnight accommodation by Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC).
Firefighters then used two aerial ladder platforms and hose reel jets to combat the fire with operations continuing throughout the night. Working with the police and BHCC a systematic process to determine all the residents had evacuated safely from the property resulted in all residents being accounted for early this morning.
We currently have one aerial ladder platform and one appliance on scene who are dealing with hot spots and damping down, fire investigation has also commenced to determine the cause of the fire. Crews are also involved in local community engagement to carry out home safety visits and provide information and reassurance to nearby residents where required. A total of 10 fire engines and 2 aerial appliances were required to deal with the incident which placed additional demand on the Service alongside the 4 pump incident in Bexhill and a further simultaneous 4 pump incident in East Wittering in West Sussex.
The efforts of all crews demonstrate the tremendous courage and professionalism of our firefighters in the face of the most challenging situations. The initial actions of the crews in Brighton certainly made a significant contribution to making sure all residents managed to evacuate the building safely despite the rapid and dramatic escalation of the fire.
The incident also highlighted excellent multi-agency collaboration with Sussex Police, SECAMB, Brighton & Hove City Council and of course our colleagues from West Sussex Fire and Rescue.
Further information about the cause of the fire will be provided in due course.