‘Disgusting’ thieves steal life-saving fire equipment

The lives of hundreds of people were endangered by metal thieves who targeted fire fighting equipment at four residential tower blocks – including one where three were killed in a blaze in 2005.

Thirteen dry risers – large brass taps that enable fire crews to draw water to each floor - were stolen from Harrow Court, Brent Court, Highplash and Highcroft surrounding Stevenage Town Centre Gardens over the weekend.

A fire at Harrow Court in 2005 claimed the lives of resident Natalie Close and two firefighters, Jeff Wornham and Michael Miller.

Herts chief fire officer, Roy Wilsher, said the theft could cause delays in getting water to a fire, threatening lives. “Dry rising mains are an important fire fighting system in high rise buildings, enabling us to pump water from the ground to the floor where the fire is. We have contingency plans, and can still get water to all floors of high rise buildings, but these thefts could delay us dealing with a fire, costing valuable time in saving lives,” he said.

At Stevenage Borough Council, Ann Webb, executive member for housing said the safety and security of residents is the authority’s main priority.

“We would like to assure them that despite these thefts, effective fire detection and fire precaution are in place. We are taking this matter extremely seriously, and are working closely with Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Stevenage Fire Station to install anti-theft measures this week.”

Herts County councillor for community safety, Richard Thake, said the theft was disgusting.

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He said. “By stealing these outlets from high rise residential buildings these crooks are potentially putting people’s lives at risk. If anyone knows anything about these thefts I would ask them to tell the police immediately.”

Herts Police said officers are checking CCTV footage, and urged anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area over the weekend to call the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime number E1/12/5518.

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