Too much focus on firefighters

30 October 2019

The Grenfell Tower public inquiry has faced backlash after it's publication this week, with firefighters claiming there was too much focus on firefighters and not enough scrutiny on those in power. 

Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said it was 'unfair and unjust' that firefighters were being publicly scrutinised while others were not. 

He said, “Why is nobody holding to account the fire minister or the prime minister, who was previously in charge of the London fire brigade himself?”

In a full statement response to the inquiry, released today (30 October), Matt said, “The Inquiry’s interim report must finally be a turning point for fire safety in the UK; government must now take responsibility for ensuring that recommendations are applied nationwide.

Yesterday, we noted the report's claims that lives could have been saved if the firefighters acted differently. In response, Matt said, “We strongly refute the report’s assertion that it would have been possible or safe to evacuate. 

"There is currently no way of knowing if evacuation could have saved more lives."

“Firefighters stand in solidarity with the bereaved, survivors and residents and share their grief for the lives lost that night," he continued. 

"However, we have said from the start that the order of issues to be investigated has been entirely wrong."

Matt suggests that the Inquiry’s structure 'prioritises scrutiny of firefighters', who did everything that they could to save lives, over investigating the critical issues of public safety that led to the fire and caused it to spread.

“Before any firefighter arrived that night, Grenfell Tower was a death trap," he said.

“The true culprits of the fire are those who wrapped the building in flammable cladding, who gutted the UK’s fire safety regime, who ignored the warnings from previous fires, and who did not hear the pleas of a community worried for their safety."

Matt argues that it is 'disgraceful' that two years on from Grenfell there has been no major assessment of the Stay Put policy, despite firefighters across the country putting pressure on the government to do so. 

Matt concludes his statement saying, "We cannot wait for years for the Inquiry to conclude. Change is needed now.”

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