14 December 2018
Phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry concluded this week and, in the closing statements, the Fire Brigades Union gave a series of recommendations.
They requested a review of fire service procedures and training, to plan for residents of all high-rise buildings to be rescued in the event that ‘stay put’ becomes unworkable.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said, “Before the fire started and any firefighter arrived, Grenfell had been stripped of all its basic fire safety measures, yet we have not even started to examine how that was allowed to happen. We have said from the beginning that it is ill-judged that the inquiry started by looking at the night of the fire, rather than the decisions which led up to it.”
He continued, “The terrible fire at Grenfell was not planned for because it was not meant to happen. Without advance planning, and the training to embed it, firefighters and control staff were placed in an utterly impossible position.”
The FBU are calling for significant research and large-scale exercises to test and revise evacuation procedures.
The union has called for a change in procedures and training for firefighters to include how to identify serious breaches of compartmentation and the viability of ‘stay put’ when a fire has spread to multiple areas, or there is a real risk that it will do so.
Building owners are also asked to help residents understand the strategy and work with local agencies to access the safety of high-rise buildings.
Matt continued, “This is clearly not just a London issue. We are calling for a national review and for national planning for evacuation in some circumstances.
“Such planning could then be applied locally, for every high-rise residential building across the UK.”
Concluding, Matt commented, “We must make our buildings safer. It is utterly disgraceful that in the 21st century, we are allowing people to live in unsafe environments.”
Fire Brigade Union
16 September 2019