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Institutional Responses to Lacrosse Tower Fire

Docklands, Melbourne, Australia  |  25 Nov 2014

27 April 2015

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), the City of Melbourne's Municipal Building Surveyor
and the Victorian Building Authority advised tenants: "The building is safe to occupy."


4 December 2015 (link to Senate Hearing video with A/DCO Dalrymple coming soon)

MFB's A/DCO, Adam Dalrymple (see video below) appeared with FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins at the Australian Government's Smoke Alarm Senate Hearing where FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins warned "ionization alarms should be banned."


23 September 2016

Gravely ill MFB Chief, Paul Raul Quits


17 June 2017

Herald Sun Report: Former MFB Chief, Peter Rau:

"People have the right to know, I wouldn’t allow my kids to live in the building. It’s just too

 big a risk in its current state.”

Peter Rau

Former Chief, MFB

Docklands Building Burns: Hundreds evacuated after Fire Breaks Out

November 25, 2014  |  Larissa Nicholson, Robyn Grace and Tammy Mills

Hundreds of people were evacuated as flames tore through their Docklands apartment building on Tuesday morning, causing $5 million in damage.


About 400 people fled the blaze, which broke out on the La Trobe Street building about 2am.


The massive fire sent a ball of flames through the balconies of 15 floors.


The Docklands building ablaze early on Tuesday morning.


The Docklands building ablaze early on Tuesday morning.


The damage bill was originally thought to be about $2 million, but this afternoon the MFB revised that figure to $5 million.


MFB investigators also revealed on Tuesday afternoon that the fire was caused by equipment inappropriately stored behind an air conditioning compressor unit on a lower balcony, which overheated and sparked the fire.


The blaze extended from the third to the 21st level in a vertical line, severely damaging balconies and external infrastructure. Water sprinklers prevented the fire spreading internally, but there has been smoke and water damage to many apartments.


Residents have not yet been allowed to return as the building has not been deemed safe by firefighters and have been warned it could be up to 48 hours until they are allowed to return.


Shivering residents - some clad only in shorts and T-shirts - were initially taken to Southern Cross station, then Etihad Stadium before the first evacuees returned to collect personal belongings from their apartments at 9.20am.


More than 75 firefighters battled the blaze inside the building, while crews in cherry-pickers doused the flames outside.


"We didn't think of anything. We just ran down": the Yeri family at Southern Cross Station.


Richard Chao, who lives on the first floor of the building, said he smelled smoke and saw flames through his open balcony door as he ran to safety in the early hours of the morning.


Mr Chao, an accountant, was woken by his two housemates. He has lived in the building for two years, but moved to the fire-affected side last year."I smelled the smoke and just ran," he said.  "By the time we walked out it was almost to the top. There were things falling down."


On the 21st floor, Niranjan Yeri was woken by flames at his window.


He took only passports as he and his wife Saroja fled with their two-year-old son.


Speaking at Southern Cross Station as their son lay sleeping, the Yeris said there was little time to be scared.


"We didn't think of anything. We just ran down."


Mr Yeri's rented apartment was in the line of fire.


The software consultant returned later Tuesday morning to find blackened walls and sodden floors; many of his uninsured belongings damaged beyond repair.


"It was terrible ... I could see my kid's teddy bear and and everything is black," he said. "I'm in shock."


Some children were still sleeping as people lined up at Southern Cross for blankets and water. Many fled the burning building with only their pyjamas.


Software developer Talal Seroor, 25, claimed the building's fire alarms failed to go off and he wasn't alerted to the blaze until a firefighter banged on his fourth-floor door.


Wade Savage was asleep on the 14th floor when he was woke by the evacuation alarm.


He said everyone was "very orderly" even casual during the evacuation.


"I got onto the street looked back and thought, 'Oh my god.'"

Mr Savage said it looked like the blaze jumped via the air-conditioning units on balconies.


"It was pretty full on," he said.


With the immediate shock of the fire having worn off, hundreds of evacuated residents were sleeping on floors, wandering with blankets over their shoulders and gathered around tables at Etihad.


Many registered with the Red Cross so their families knew they were safe, while emergency services staff paced the floor answering questions, checking welfare and organising to take residents one-by-one back to the apartment complex to grab their belongings.


Kathleen Feain was one of the first people allowed back in the building.


She grabbed a bag of apples and her boyfriend's asthma medication from their 21st floor apartment, and said she was "very much" relieved to find no damage in her home.


Third-floor resident Chandrasekar Vemula, 32, a consultant with NAB, stood shivering in shorts and a T-shirt - the only clothes he had time to grab.


"As soon as we got out from the building the fire had spread to the sixth floor, it wasn't a matter of minutes, it was seconds," he said.


Perth resident Mark Barendrecht was visiting with family for a wedding when they were too were forced to flee.


They called the newlyweds to help them out, taking their toddler to North Melbourne for the night instead of joining evacuees at Southern cross.


"We crashed their honeymoon somewhat," Mr Barendrecht joked as he, his father-in-law and the groom collected their luggage about 10.30am.


Ambulance Victoria senior paramedic manager Steve Moody said four ambulance crews were sent to the fire due to the large number of people evacuated.


"Thankfully there were only minor injuries," Mr Moody said.


"A couple of people suffered scraped knees from slipping on the building's stairs coming down in the wet."


Fire investigators will assess whether the construction of the Docklands high-rise apartment contributed to the spread of the fire.


The investigation will also encompass why fire alarms did not go off in certain levels of the 21-storey building to alert residents about to the blaze.


"It was far from being malicious in intent. It would have to be put down as accidental," MFB controller Trevor Woodward said.


The fire it sparked was intense, spreading vertically and quickly up the balconies on one side before it reached the top floor.


"It's very rare that we've had a fire like this that's able to spread vertically so quickly and that will be part of the investigation as well - was it construction or was it something else that allowed the fire to spread?" Mr Woodward said.


"Hopefully there'll be lessons learnt to be put into place and into proposed buildings in the way they're designed."


The units on the side where the fire travelled sustained some fire damage while there was considerable smoke and water damage from internal sprinklers to other apartments.


Mr Woodward confirmed the effectiveness of the building's fire alarms would also be investigated after residents complained that alarms did not go off on some of the floors.


MFB spokesman Trevor Woodward said most of the fire damage was external but there was a lot of water and smoke damage inside.

Metropolitan  Fire Brigades (MFB)
Post Incident Analysis Report (PIA)  |  124 pages


4.7 Megs

Pages Extracted from Above Report:

Conclusions: Extract

City of Melbourne - Lacrosse Building Fire

Municipal Building Surveyor Report  |  50 pages


2.6 Megs


The Age  |  21 May 2015  |  Aisha Dow

Slum squeeze: overseas students taking turns to sleep in overcrowded Melbourne high rises


Click 'Play' Button for Video Below

00:08 Lacrosse Tenant
"You said the emergency system was working correctly . . . so is that how it's supposed to work as that made no sense to me that we weren't having this deafening noise that happens when other toaster false alarms were going on -
but the day of the fire they were silent. It was unbelievable."

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade, the City of Melbourne's Municipal Building
Surveyor and the Victorian Building Authority told tenants that:

"the building is safe to occupy"

despite it being fitted with ionization smoke alarms.

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