A London councillor is calling for a greater use of the latest robotic technology to counter the disruption caused when gas cylinders are caught up in serious fires.

Councillor Colin Tandy, Bexley's representative on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, raised the issue following a series of major fires which have caused huge disruption to residents, businesses and public transport. He also took the opportunity to demand the authority takes urgent action to avoid future major disruptions.

He said, $quot;I am very concerned about the totally unacceptable delays to public transport, particularly the rail network, the costs involved and the major inconvenience caused to the public and businesses.$quot;
He went further, $quot;There are instances of families having to be evacuated from homes, which must be most distressing.$quot;

As an example Cllr Tandy cited the warehouse fire in Deptford on April 26, when 200 people were evacuated and trains cancelled or diverted.
advertisement. He explained, $quot;Only a few weeks ago, Eurostar and services from Victoria were suspended for 30 hours.$quot; He sees a solution to this problem in technology and he explained that he believes it is possible to use robotic vehicles, similar to those used by bomb disposal squads, to neutralise cylinders on-site or remove them safely from the blaze.

Firefighters currently have to impose a 200m exclusion zone if it is thought gas cylinders are present at a fire because of the danger of them exploding. Acetylene cylinders, which are used for cutting and welding, pose the most risk.