Thursday, 5 August 2010

Fire in the Hold!

Noticed a brief report in the Post yesterday about a fire in the basement of the Council House.

My first thought was that it was an insurance/clearance job. After all, apart from a couple of die hard councillors, NCC has largely abandoned the Council House for its shiny new home at Loxley House and it could be described as a prime location. However, its listing status was recently upgraded to Grade II* so it would be incredibly difficult to make any alterations to the building. The normal fate for such properties is to suddenly find themselves aflame and oh noes! they have to be demolished, leaving room for new development and the landowner bathing in filthy lucre, instead of burdened with a money pit.

But jesting aside, a clue in the report points to a more likely scenario. Apparently the fire started in a lift mechanism before spreading. I'm no expert but I presume (hope?) that lifts aren't normally prone to spontaneous combustion unless, perhaps, they haven't been maintained properly.

Now lift maintenance is currently a live issue with NCC following the accident in the lifts at Victoria Centre flats. NCC used to employ a lifts maintenance team but this was cut in the 2009 workforce reductions to make savings. I understand that this decision is quite high in the minds of the health and Safety Executive which is currently investigating the Viccy flats incident.

Looks like we might have been subjected to a cut too far.

Update - just had it confirmed that the fire did start in the car lift as suggested by Niles in the comments. NCC isn't responsible for that so they're in the clear over that one.

Interestingly have been told that NCC has hired consultants Dunbar and Boardman to look after their lifts since the Viccy flats incident. Chances are that won't be cheap and the decision to engage them should have been published on the NCC website (either as a delegated officer decision or portfolio holder decision) but I haven't seen any sign of it. But they're being very secretive about lift related stuff at the moment. I've got a freedom of info request in about all that so it'll be interesting to see how much info they give me or whether they hide behind exemptions. I know which one my money's on...


Niles said...

Council Hse is currently being deloused and significantly deep-cleaned, following the departure of half the cllrs - I'd have thought those people, who are strangers to the building and using chemicals - might be the source.

The lifts are always breaking down so they are serviced regularly - at least to get them back into action, if not to get them safe. Apparently they are still using the original motors that were in them when they were installed in 1927.

Niles said...

Just been to read the report - that's not the lift in the main council house is, it, so I don't know much about that.

Wonder if it was the car lift?