Bermondsey residents have been told not to panic if they see firefighters rushing towards an empty tower block to set up a 64-metre ladder this summer.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) has got permission from Southwark Council and builders Bouygues to use the empty Maydew House, to the south-west of Southwark Park, as a training site for its new ladder “in the coming weeks”.
A leaflet handed out to people living nearby said: “Training at a real building is important to create a realistic environment and bring new equipment into service as quickly and safely as possible.
“If you see Fire Brigade vehicles at the site, please be assured that this is part of the exercise and there is no cause for alarm. If a real fire does break out over the period, you should follow the usual emergency protocols and procedures.”
LFB has been contacted for more details on when the exercise will take place and how long it is likely to last.
The 64-metre ladder will be kept at Old Kent Road fire station, according to the leaflet.
The brigade said last year that it had taken on three 64-metre turntable ladders, which are “the largest of their type in the UK”. The ladders are mounted on fire engines.
They “will provide the Brigade with assets that have a vastly increased operational capability due to their extended height and reach,” assistant commissioner Richard Mills added in a report to LFB management last year.
“The specification of the vehicles also provides additional operational benefits in a number of scenarios such as an elevator for multiple rescues and an on board integrated pump.”
Maydew House on the Abbeyfield Estate has been largely empty since residents were decanted for major works, although it has been used for temporary accommodation.
Campaigners protested outside the block last year, arguing it should be refurbished “immediately” to provide council homes during the pandemic.
All 255 of the flats in the refurbished block will be council homes, the council said last year. Work is due to finish in 2023.