Vox Political proved right again as London Fire Brigade scapegoated for Grenfell fire

Inferno: The Grenfell Tower blaze caused the greatest single loss of life in London since World War II, with official figures showing 72 people lost their lives.

This should make your blood boil.

After their heroism on the night of the Grenfell Tower inferno, it seems the London Fire Brigade is being blamed for the loss of 72 lives as a result of the blaze.

This Site predicted as much in September, when LFB members were interviewed under caution by police over potential health and safety breaches to do with the policy to tell people to stay in their flats while the fire raged outside.

Now retired high court judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who led the inquiry, has said many lives could have been saved if her officers had identified sooner that the fire was out of control and told residents to evacuate.

But isn’t it true that the “stay put” policy had been imposed by landlords the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) and was standard policy for a high-rise building in the United Kingdom?

He found that the LFB failed to train its incident commanders and firefighters in how to recognise the need for evacuation or in the dangers of combustible cladding.

But he also said there was “compelling evidence that the external walls of the building failed to comply with requirements” of building regulations governing fire safety. They didn’t adequately resist the spread of fire – “on the contrary they actively promoted it”.

And his conclusion that “the principal reason why the flames spread so rapidly up the building” was its aluminium composite panels and the “melting and dripping of burning polyethylene” was contrary to the evidence of cladding panel manufacturer Arconic.

This suggests that, even though senior officers had been briefed on the risk of cladding fires from high-rise blazes abroad, they had no reason to believe that Grenfell might fall prey to such an event.

So the LFB had no way of knowing that Grenfell would suffer such a cladding fire and in any case it was bound by a policy imposed by the tower’s landlord.

And we are expected to accept that the LFB deserves the blame for it. What a travesty.

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12 thoughts on “Vox Political proved right again as London Fire Brigade scapegoated for Grenfell fire

  1. Mark C

    I have been saying since those fateful days that this will be this generation’s Hillsborough. Justice is never given in these initial inquiries, the finger of blame never gets pointed in the right direction. Families seem doomed to suffer and fight for years after the event. Shame on every single coward who covers their own arses and ensures the real culprits and the establishment get off scot free.

    The new Channel 4 drama The Accident is in part inspired by both Grenfell and Hillsborough. Writer Jack Thorne confirms my suspicions when he says that Brexit is, in part, simply being used to distract the population from Grenfell and demanding the proper safety measures.

  2. SteveH

    I have read several reports on this judgement (including the Guardian’s that you link to) and they all seem to give a similar balanced picture of the report’s findings which praise the front-line firefighter’s courage and selfless dedication to saving lives but justifiably criticise the inadequate training of senior officers and the decisions taken on the night by those in charge.

    Unless this report’s findings are accepted and acted upon all the guff about ‘lessons learned’ will be nothing more than empty rhetoric and more lives will be lost in the future.

    To quote from the news report in the Guardian.
    “The London fire brigade’s readiness for the Grenfell Tower fire was “gravely inadequate” and fewer people would have died if it had been better prepared

    “preparation and planning for a fire such as Grenfell by the London fire brigade (LFB) fell far short of what should have been expected.”

    “Cotton angered their relatives in her evidence when she compared preparing to tackle a fire like Grenfell to developing “a training package for a space shuttle landing on the Shard”, in other words something she would never need to do.

    Moore-Bick addressed this saying it showed an “unwillingness to confront” the fact that in October 2016 LFB fire engineers produced a slideshow titled “Tall Building Facades” featuring cladding fires around the world. It warned of “a need to understand what products are being used in the facade system and their fire behaviour … These could affect the way fires develop and spread in a building.”

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      And what about the facts – as listed in my article – that firefighters were told the cladding adhered to regulations when it did not, and that there was a non-evacuation rule imposed by the landlord?

      1. SteveH

        ….and what about the facts that I have quoted from an article that you linked to. I guess we will all have to wait until tomorrow so that we can contextualise the quotes.

        Until then I would argue that it would be a very strange situation if the senior officer in charge of a major incident was actually forbidden from overriding the current fire safety policy for a building because it was obvious (we all saw it on TV) that the fire was out of control. Especially when that policy relies on the building structure containing the fire which it was self-evidently failing to do.

        It is also undeniable that there had been other fires in London, some causing significant loss of life, where the cladding had aided the spread of fire and also the report on international fires involving the cladding on high rise blocks. My central question is why didn’t the LFB’s management factor these known incidents into their training and procedures.

        From what I have read nobody is calling into question the very commendable bravery, skill and dedication of the front-line firefighters. On the facts currently known the fault appears to lie with LFB’s senior management not the front-line. If this proves to be the case any attempt to sweep this under the carpet would be a profound mistake.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        The information you quoted was in my article too – I simply put it in its proper context.

        The senior officer did indeed override the fire safety policy for the building – when it became clear that the information available about that building was wrong and that it was endangering (and, as we now know, ending) lives.

        Do you know that the LFB had not factored the known incidents into its training and procedures, for places where cladding was known to be an issue? Remember, the cladding on Grenfell Tower was said to be fire-retardant.

        No – on the facts currently known, I think the fault lies with the landlord – the local council – and with the cladding manufacturer. They appear to have colluded to mislead the LFB on safety levels in the building.

      3. SteveH

        I agree that fault lies where you have said but that in no way abdicates others from responsibility for their decisions on the day or for inadequate procedures and/or training. As I said above we will all be able to read it tomorrow when we can see the full report (c1000 pages apparently) and fully contextualise things

  3. hugosmum70

    That stay put rule isnt just for high rise flats. i know here in wakefield west yorkshire it was standard procedure for at least one set of flats a friend of mine was in.it may have changed now, she went into a residential nursing home 3 years ago and died a year later. but at this sheltered housing scheme complex they had regular fire drills(some set off when a certain elderly resident burnt his morning toast), they were all elderly in those flats but the building was only ground floor and upper floor flats. all had balconys i believe. certainly the ones on the upper floor had but only big enough for 2 people to stand on them at once. the residents were told not to use the lift if the alarm went off. if they couldnt get down the stairs safely themselves(and some used small mobility scooters) they had to stay in their rooms , if they could get on the balcony to do so and shut their patio doors. there was a list of residents in the office downstairs near the door . those who were known as being unable to walk down the stairs unaided were starred along with the number of their flat. luckily there was no major fire while she was there. only scheduled fire drills and as mentioned the burnt toast incidences. she was in there a number of years. (local authority housing 3rd part accomodation they used to call it. )had a resident warden on call who lived in till she retired and the authority didnt replace her with another live in one. just someone who went round each of their several similar complexes, rang each flat to make sure each tenant was ok/ only if they didnt get an answer did they investigate, but once that was done there was no one to call on except through a communal link button/cord which when pressed or pulled went to a central offfice somewhere in another town who then contacted your next of kin or keyholder.if they couldnt get hold of them (say they were in their garden and didnt hear the phone,) the link people then tried the next relative on the list until they got someone but meanwhile rang the police,(I know i have this link here and this happened here when i went out with my sis who had unknown to her or me. hit the link button on our way out , caused quite a stir in this cul de sac,. lol … but if like grenfell they have no such link scheme then you cant blame the fire brigade.

  4. Jeffrey Davies

    How could they trust a Tory government wasn’t it said on that terrible night the firefighters were stepping over body’s but not long after it was changed their officer’s should have been wary after they were warned not to speak out Tory’s hay they were the cause by allowing the building companies to use this dangerous product.

  5. Random Bloke

    Thought the same thing when the story aired.. the fire brigade went in under the assumption the building was going by regulations and that the units would be protected for a specific time (as they usually would be)

    This is complete smoke and mirrors/passing the buck, zero accountability for whoever is responsible for the running/maintaining of the building (particularly when it comes to use of materials not fit for use)

    Of course if they knew the building materials were as combustible as it turned out to be they would had attempted to do a full evacuation but honestly the way that fire spread people were going to die regardless… just thank god the one that went up recently (timber construction) didn’t have loads of people in it!

  6. wildwood639

    I hope that isn’t the last of the people blamed.Can’t believe there hasn’t been arrests and prosecutions to those that profited from this incendiary cladding, banned in the US but exported from the US.The manufacturers,purchasers,installers,and owners of the building, and those that haven’t removed it from those waiting for another tragedy.Never the less I watched the female Fire Commissioner’s response that even with hindsight she would not have done anything different and was disgusted.

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