Stop British government whitewashing Grenfell Tower disaster, firefighters say

This video from England says about itself:

Grenfell and firefighting: Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, at the Durham Miners’ Gala 2017.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Firefighters warn against Grenfell fire whitewash

Saturday 5th August 2017

THE government must be held to account over the Grenfell Tower tragedy, firefighters demanded before yesterday’s deadline for submissions to the inquiry.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said the the scope of the inquiry needs to be broad and must also focus on the effect of government cuts to the service along with the slashing of safety regulations.

Mr Wrack said so many factors that contributed to make a “perfect storm” for the horrific west London tower block fire, “and each of them needs to be examined and investigated in turn. A narrow inquiry would be utterly useless.”

He urged the government to make recommendations following its findings, just as the inquiries into the Kings Cross Station and Bradford City stadium fires did.

Around 300 submissions were expected on the scope of the inquiry with shadow fire minister Chris Williamson backing FBU calls for a broad investigation.

Mr Williamson said the union was absolutely pivotal to the inquiry and warned against a government whitewash.

The Labour MP for Derby North said the consequences of neoliberalism and its obsession with cuts and privatisation “led straight to Grenfell.”

And he warned of a “grossly underfunded” fire service desperately lacking resources.

Firefighters went repeatedly into that burning building but they shouldn’t use breathing apparatus for long periods,” Mr Williamson said.

“The effects of this can thicken the blood and risks coronary arrest. Firefighters went into the building at least three times and could have collapsed and perished.

Mr Williamson explained that Labour is calling for a two-stage inquiry, which must consider why the fire started and why it spread so quickly, and then why the residents weren’t listened to.

Mr Wrack said the FBU was seeking core participant status in the inquiry.

“We also want those at the very top — in central government — held to account. Their actions and decisions over recent years need to be thoroughly scrutinised.”

He said no stone should be left unturned.

“Anything less would be an injustice to those who died and will do nothing to prevent a second Grenfell.”

19 thoughts on “Stop British government whitewashing Grenfell Tower disaster, firefighters say

  1. Saturday 5th July 2017

    posted by Morning Star in World

    FIREFIGHTERS extinguished a huge blaze at a Dubai skyscraper yesterday that forced residents to evacuate in the night as burning debris fell into the streets.

    Several residents said the fire broke out just after 1am at the 86-storey Torch Tower — a 1,100-foot-tall residential building in Dubai’s Marina district.

    More than 40 floors of the building on one side were engulfed in flames as residents looked on from below. No serious injuries were reported.

    The same building had also caught fire just two-and-a-half years earlier.

    Several skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have caught fire in recent years, including a 63-story luxury hotel in Dubai that went up on New Year’s Eve in 2016.

    Earlier this year, Dubai passed new fire safety rules requiring buildings with flammable cladding — the kind blamed for the Grenfell Tower disaster in London — replaced with more fire-resistant materials.

    Authorities have acknowledged at least 30,000 buildings across the UAE have cladding or panelling that safety experts have warned accelerates the spread of fires.

    Second fire at Dubai skyscraper underscores safety failures at Grenfell Tower:


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  3. Saturday 5th August 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    Seven years of drastic cuts to fire services including reductions in personnel and the closure of fire stations have brought the fire brigade to the brink. An immediate reversal of this policy and increased investment is now a priority, writes DIANE ABBOTT

    Figures obtained by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) last month show that under Tory austerity almost one in fivefront-line firefighter posts — some 11,000 jobs — have been lost since 2010, making it a post war record.

    Firefighter jobs have been cut across Britain for seven years now and in total, these cuts mean that 19 per cent of the entire firefighting workforce has been slashed.

    Almost 8,000 of the total jobs lost since 2010 are to full-time firefighter posts and additionally nearly 3,000 “retained” (on-call) jobs have gone. Over 1,000 firefighter jobs have been lost in Scotland, 300 in Wales and around 100 in Northern Ireland.

    Such cuts have consequences, whatever the Tories may claim, and are putting the public at risk.

    As Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “After a tragedy like Grenfell Tower, the public need to feel safe. It is very clear just how badly we need adequate numbers of professional, trained firefighters to tackle these sorts of, thankfully, rare disasters. Continued cuts to front-line firefighters and emergency fire control operators — these jobs have been cut by 25 per cent for the same period — are a serious threat to public safety.”

    These cuts to jobs, alongside the closure of record numbers of fire stations and cuts to equipment, mean hard-working and devoted people are left running the service on a shoestring.

    There are now fewer firefighters on fewer fire engines at a reduced number of fire stations able to respond to emergencies.

    The FBU has argued that government cuts are directly to blame for a rise in fire-related deaths in England in 2016.

    Official figures show that 303 people died in fires during 2015/16 — up 15 per cent on the previous year. Response times to all types of serious fires also rose, in some cases by as much as one minute and eight seconds. In London, Anthony Mayer’s review into the London Fire Brigade concluded that it should not have its budget cut any further after eight years of cuts under Boris Johnson. The review pointed out that emergency response times have increased in areas where fire stations were closed in 2014, one of which was Kingsland fire station near my home in Hackney.

    A report by the Home Office in January confirmed that the number of deaths as a result of fires in the home has increased. This tallies with BBC research released in December 2016 that showed fire crews taking longer to arrive at house fires. Cuts have real, human consequences.

    Additionally, fire prevention exercises such as home safety checks have been reduced by a quarter over five years. Fire and rescue services are also spending 13 per cent less time on public safety campaigns and initiatives.

    Over 60,000 signed a petition asking that the government sets national standards to improve rescue response times across Britain which are currently at their slowest for 20 years.

    This matters as evidence shows that the longer it takes firefighters to get to incidents, the more likely it is that people will be injured or killed.

    Even when the first engine arrives to a fire in time, it is essential that a second is present before fire crews enter a burning building and begin rescuing victims. This is to ensure that firefighting procedures are followed as well as assisting the first crew in case of difficulty.

    Labour will continue to make clear the real impact of fire and rescue service cuts on both firefighters’ safety and the safety of the public as a whole.

    Our fire and rescue service needs investment, not more cuts. As part of this, we are committed to employing 3,000 new firefighters under the next Labour government.

    More broadly, we need to get the message across that cuts do have consequences — not least for public safety — and we need to change course and invest in our future.

    You can follow Diane at


  4. Saturday, 5 August 2017

    ‘Those responsible must be jailed’ say Grenfell survivors

    ‘WE HAVE been strong and we are not prepared to be walked over and we do want answers,’ Grenfell survivor Jaquie Hayes said yesterday.

    She spoke as the deadline passed at 5pm yesterday for local residents and organisations to submit evidence to the inquiry into the fire which claimed the lives of so many men, women and children.

    More than 200 people have submitted responses to the inquiry. However, local residents, families of the victims and Grenfell survivors fear that the inquiry will be biased and far too narrow. They want the inquiry to examine who was responsible for the fire, why survivors still have not been re-housed and why, when they repeatedly warned that the building was a fire risk, they were not listened to.

    And most importantly they want those responsible to be sent to prison. Last week, the police announced a criminal investigation and said that there were grounds for ‘corporate manslaughter’. However ‘corporate manslaughter’ is only punishable with a fine.

    Karim Mussilhy, a family member of one of those who tragically died in the fire said: ‘The criminal investigation is important and a priority to us because then it means that these organisations will be investigated and hopefully private individuals will be charged and potentially taken to prison.’

    Moyra Samuels, one of the co-founders of Justice 4 Grenfell said: ‘There is a whole range of concerned organisations, including Justice 4 Grenfell and Architects for Social Housing who have submitted evidence to the inquiry because this does impact on social housing very broadly, nationally.

    ‘There are issues as well concerning the voices of concerned residents before the fire. Those voices were not listened to, they were systematically ignored and we are concerned that that is to do with the attitude of the local authority and the TMO (Tenants Management Organisation) towards residents in social housing.

    ‘They were dismissive, they were threatening and I think those concerns which actually gave warning about the fire risks have to be taken into account. There will be no trust or confidence in an inquiry that is not broad.

    ‘We cannot accept an inquiry that only looks at the fire. It has to take account of all the issues, especially what happened to the survivors and the evacuees after the fire and the role of the local authority in responding to this atrocity subsequently to the fire. The criminal investigation and the inquiry have to run in tandem.’


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