Business Sprinkler Alliance


Student Accommodation, Bolton

Fire has destroyed a university student accommodation block, in Bolton.

At its height about 200 firefighters from 40 fire engines were tackling the blaze at the Cube. With the fire affecting every floor, the immediate evacuation of the block saved many lives.More than 200 people were inside The Cube when the fire started on 15 November 2019 and two students had to be rescued by firefighters, one from the sixth floor.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said it used new evacuation procedures put in place following the Grenfell Tower disaster. The fire service report found the cladding on the seven-storey failed to stop the spread of fire, which was started by a discarded cigarette.

Witnesses said the fire ripped across and up the building within minutes, "crawling up the cladding like it was nothing". The fire service arrived just over three minutes after the 99 call at 8,30pm and within 25 minutes the fire had spread to “all floors”.

“As the fire spread, it was quickly evident that the building was failing to perform in accordance with expectations,” the report found. “The swift and successful implementation of new operational procedures for tackling fires in multi-occupied residential buildings played a key part in the saving of lives.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham commented “This report confirms that our firefighters did a truly outstanding job in tackling the fire. They undoubtedly saved people from serious injury or worse, and we all owe them a huge debt of thanks. The incident also brought home the danger of leaving flammable cladding on buildings.”

Chief Fire Officer Jim Wallace said: “The speed with which the fire took hold and the devastating impact it had on the building was immense. I want to place on record my appreciation of the actions of all who responded to the fire at The Cube.They demonstrated great professionalism in the face of extremely testing circumstances."

Steve Wiswell, brigade secretary of The Fire Brigades Union Greater Manchester branch said: "This fire was a shocking reminder of the appalling state of building safety in the UK . Firefighters responded bravely in difficult circumstances, but years of cuts and government complacency over building safety - even after Grenfell - left them exposed that night.

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