A report into the Grenfell Tower fire has condemned the London Fire Brigade (LFB) for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the blaze.
The inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, said more lives could have been saved if the fire brigade had taken certain actions earlier. He also concluded that some testimony given by the LFB at the inquiry was “insensitive”.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
He criticised the brigade for its “stay put” strategy, in which firefighters and 999 operators told residents to stay in their flats for nearly two hours after the blaze began. He said the strategy should have been rescinded earlier.
The report, which will be officially published tomorrow, pinpoints “institutional” failures that meant the LFB’s planning and preparation for the incident was “gravely inadequate”.
Control room staff that dealt with 999 calls “undoubtedly saved lives,” says Sir Martin, but “a close examination” of operations revealed “shortcomings in practice, policy and training”.
He says supervisors were “under the most enormous pressure”, but the brigade had not given its senior control room staff “appropriate training on how to manage a large-scale incident with a large number of FSG [Fire Survival Guidance] calls”.
Referring to the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell, south London, in 2009, which killed three women and three children, he said mistakes that were made in responding to that incident were “repeated” at Grenfell.
In one of the most direct and damning passages in the report, Sir Martin slammed the LFB’s commissioner, Dany Cotton.
He wrote: “Quite apart from its remarkable insensitivity to the families of the deceased and to those who escaped from their burning homes with their lives, the Commissioner's evidence that she would not change anything about the response of the LFB on the night, even with the benefit of hindsight, only serves to demonstrate that the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire.”
The Grenfell Tower blaze erupted in the 24-storey block of flats in North Kensington, West London in the early hours of 14 June, 2017. It resulted in the deaths of 72 people.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from the UK and around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.