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Grenfell Fire report: Firefighters' 'stay-put' strategy in telling people to stay in building likely cost lives

Campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell said firefighters “have been made scapegoats” by the first phase of the report.

Grenfell Tower in west London the day after the fire.
Grenfell Tower in west London the day after the fire.
Image: Rick Findler/PA Images

THE PUBLIC INQUIRY’S first report into London’s Grenfell Tower fire will be officially published today, two days after those directly affected were given a first look.

Survivors of the fire and bereaved family members will be able to publicly respond for the first time after the 900+ page document was leaked online.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped the report would bring “some measure of comfort” to those directly affected by the fire.

He said: “They asked for the truth. We promised them the truth. We owe them the truth.

And, today, the whole country, the whole world, is finally hearing the truth about what happened at Grenfell Tower on the 14  of June 2017.For the survivors, the bereaved, and the local community, this report will prove particularly harrowing.

“Yet I hope it strengthens their faith in the inquiry’s desire to determine the facts of the fire – and in this government’s commitment to airing those facts in public, no matter how difficult they may be, and acting on them.

“That commitment is absolute.”

The report will be laid before parliament and published at 10am.

It was leaked to the media on Monday to the frustration of the local community who were unable to respond due to non-disclosure agreements.

Seen by the PA news agency, it concludes that fewer people would have died had residents been evacuated while it was still possible and “serious shortcomings” not plagued the fire service’s response,

It also accuses London Fire Brigade (LFB) commissioner Dany Cotton of “remarkable insensitivity” after she said she would not have done anything differently on the night.

More details will emerge on recommendations made by inquiry chairman Martin Moore-Bick following the two-year investigation into how the disaster at the west London tower block unfolded.

But General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Matt Wrack, told the BBC the ordering of the inquiry was “completely back-to-front” – a concern which has previously been voiced by the local community. 

Campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell said firefighters “have been made scapegoats of Phase 1 while the ‘big’ players seem to have got off scot-free”.

The group will parade billboards around Kensington and Westminster after the report is made public to highlight the fact that recommendations need the political will of the government to be implemented.

They said: “The film that we are using again as inspiration, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, highlights the power of advertising to bring about justice.

We wanted to harness this power to remind people to pay attention to the report and to highlight that the government ignored the recommendations after the fire at Lakanal House in 2009.

“Also there is nothing on the statute books for recommendations of any public inquiry to be implemented, by a government.”

The Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad, has invited those directly affected to meet her in Parliament this evening to hear any concerns and responses they may have about the report.

In his report, Moore-Bick said the “principal reason” the flames shot up the building at such speed was the combustible aluminium composite material cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a “source of fuel”.

The report also concluded the fire, in which 72 people died, started as the result of an “electrical fault in a large fridge-freezer” in a fourth floor flat.

tower-block-fire-in-london London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton. Source: Yui Mok

The judge said he had not intended to investigate whether the building complied with regulations at this stage, but there was already “compelling evidence” the external walls did not.

Moore-Bick also criticised the London Fire Brigade for its “stay-put” strategy when residents were told to remain in their flats by firefighters and 999 operators for nearly two hours after the blaze broke out just before 1am.

The strategy was rescinded at 2.47am.

Moore-Bick said: “That decision could and should have been made between 1.30am and 1.50am and would be likely to have resulted in fewer fatalities.”

Moore-Bick also said “the LFB’s preparation and planning for a fire such as that at Grenfell Tower was gravely inadequate”.

Ms Cotton’s evidence that she would not change anything about the response of the fire service on the night “only serves to demonstrate that the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire”, he added.

The third episode of Stardust, TheJournal.ie’s podcast about the 1981 fire which killed 48 people, is out now. Listen below or else wherever you get your podcasts. 


Source: Stardust/SoundCloud

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