By Humphrey Carter
NEXT year, each of the Balearic islands will have to present the local government with a black list of “high risk” buildings as part of an overall shake-up in safety and security in the wake of the Windsor skyscraper blaze in Madrid two weeks ago.

The Windsor blaze and apparent lack of sufficient fire fighting systems in the building and access problems for fire fighters caused by surrounding buildings and the height of the 106 metre tower, sparked alarm bells across the country. Yesterday, the Balearic Interior Minister held a meeting with local mayors, emergency service chiefs, engineers and planning councillors to discuss what action will be taken to ensure the Balearics know how to react in the event of a major disaster in one of the region's tall or densely populated buildings.

The new emergency plan being devised will correspond to towns with a population of over 25'000 and all present at yesterday's meeting agreed on the drawing up of the building black list by next year.

However, Minister José María Rodríguez also wants all the respective local and island council emergency services to improve their response and reaction skills by carrying out more frequent drills and exercises.

He wants to see much more effort taken to ensure residents of high and densely populated buildings know what to do in the event of a fire and more emergency drills carried out at large office complexes, schools and centres for the disabled.

He is also considering introducing new Balearic safety and security rules and regulations which will apply to and have to be complied with across the Balearics.

Emergency service chief Joan Pol explained to those present at the meeting that buildings over 28 metres high should meet a set of fire and safety regulations passed in 1982 and they will form the basis for the regional inspections to be carried out by those responsible for drawing up the black list.

Rodríguez added that all buildings in this category will be expected to fully comply with the 1982 regulations. Once the black list is completed and the emergency services are aware of what the risks and potential problems in the event of a major disaster are, a new regional fire fighting programme will be put together.

The Minister also wants to see all councils to have presented and have in place their local emergency plans by the end of this year. To date, only the council of LLuchmajor and the Island Council of Minorca, are prepared.

The three tallest buildings in the Balearics are in Palma but are hardly skyscrapers. the Plaza Madrid tower of flats is 65 metres high, the Torre Mallorca on the Avenidas is 60 metres and the Torre Poligono on the Son Castello industrial estate, 55 metres. The Palma fire brigade has special extendable hydraulic ladders which will reach up to 30 metres, but the city's roads can not handle fire trucks with larger ladders.


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