Major fire risk at UK’s first PFI hospital

The FBU is extremely concerned about “major flaws” discovered in fire proofing materials used in the construction of the UK’s first private finance initiative (PFI) built hospital.

First opened in 2000 Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle was the first hospital to be built in partnership with the private sector.

Graeme Higgins, secretary of the FBU in Cumbria, said: “It has to be asked why it has taken so long to identify the flaws in fire proofing materials used in the hospital’s construction. The work to rectify this issue is expected to take up to 18 months.

“Public safety, especially the safety of vulnerable patients in hospitals, is of paramount importance to firefighters. We would urge all stakeholders involved with PFI buildings in Cumbria to review the fire safety materials and procedures currently in use. In Carlisle alone we have two PFI fire stations.

“Cumberland Infirmary is one of Carlisle’s biggest fire risks and prior to fire service funding cuts would have received a pre-determined attendance of two fire appliances and a specialist aerial ladder platform vehicle to any emergency calls from the hospital.

“However since 2014 the specialist aerial ladder platform is no longer staffed and Carlisle now has 50% fewer firefighters on duty than in 2004.”

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