Read the news pages of this issue and you may experience a disconcerting sense of déjà vu. California wildfires, widespread flooding disasters, fire deaths in Russian nursing homes, shooting attacks in schools… in some of these reports, it seems as if it is just the names of locations that have been changed; in others, similar events strike the same places with depressing regularity.
But there is one news story from this issue that bears a particularly uncomfortable resemblance to last issue’s report on nine firefighter fatalities in a warehouse blaze in the USA. On page 7 of this issue, you will find news of four firefighters who died in a warehouse in the UK.
The very first emotions are, of course, deepest empathy with – and sympathy for – the families, friends and colleagues of those who were killed.
But why do firefighters around the world continue to die in these large buildings, which are often inadequately or simply not protected?
Even more tragically, many of these buildings turn out to have been unoccupied at the time.
Granted, fighting fires is an intrinsically dangerous occupation. Yet the last decade or so has seen vast improvements in detection, suppression and firefighting technology, along with massive advances in personal protective equipment. So is the underlying factor behind such deaths a human one?
Some suggest that the problem could lie in either command or training. Other experts contend that building codes and fire safety legislation are either inadequate or not being enforced correctly.
Frustratingly, it appears that lessons are still not being shared or learned.