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29 October 2019
A 'much-delayed' public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster has been published this week, finding that the London Fire Brigade's (LFB) readiness was 'gravely inadequate' and deaths could have been prevented with better planning and training.
The 1,000-page report, led by retired high court judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, claims that many lives could have been saved if LFB officers had identified sooner that the fire was out of control and told residents to evacuate.
Despite senior officers knowing about the risk of cladding fires from high rise blazes, the preparation and planning for a 'fire such as Grenfell' by the LFB fell far short of what should have been expected, the report states.
The LFB were also found to have failed to train its incident commanders and firefighters in how to recognise the need for evacuation or in the dangers of combustible cladding.
However, the 'extraordinary courage and selfless devotion to duty' of rank-and-file officers was noted.
Sir Martin said, “those in the control room and those deployed on the incident ground responded with great courage and dedication in the most harrowing of circumstances”.
According to the findings of the report, the building had been refurbished in breach of safety regulations and that 'the principal reason the flames spread so rapidly was due to the aluminium composite panels and the 'melting and dripping of burning polyethylene'.
Sir Martin said there was already 'compelling evidence that the external walls of the building failed to comply with requirements' of building regulations governing fire safety and instead 'actively promoted' the spread of fire.
LFB's commissioner, Dany Cotton, was criticised in the report for 'remarkable insenstivity' and it was suggested that the LFB was 'at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire.'
The report was informed by evidence from hundreds of witnesses including 88 firefighters, control room officers and senior LFB commanders, together with 35 of the bereaved, survivors and residents.
The findings came 26 months after Theresa May set up the inquiry in the wake of the disaster.
The full report is expected to be published on Wednesday (30th).