Tuesday, November 12, 2019

London’s Grenfell Tower incident: Systematic failure of the Fire Department

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London’s Fire Department is accused of the incident at  Grenfell Tower, which killed 72 people, was one of the most devastating fires in the UK. On June 14, 2017, a refrigerator caught fire and set off the fire. The flames spread quickly as the façade was made of combustible plastic.

Just one year after the fire in the district of Kensington, it became apparent that fire protection had been neglected in numerous places. The public inquiry revealed failures of builders, regulators and the fire department.

Martin Moore-Bick, criticized the commitment that the Fire Department was not prepared for the emergency

On Wednesday, an investigation report was published in which the firefighters are accused of grave omissions. The long-awaited report speaks of “systematic failure” of the London Fire Department. The chairman of the commission, Martin Moore-Bick, criticized the commitment that the fire brigade was not prepared for the emergency.

The report also mentions the then head of the London Fire Department, Danny Cotton, who testified in her testimony: “It’s very easy to say, bring out everyone, but how do you get it all out?” That shows the Fire department did not think about a possible evacuation.

The London Fire Department had too much confidence that the fire would not spread. That was part of the “completely inadequate preparation and planning”. Even long-time firefighters would have had no experience with extinguishing a building that had a flammable exterior façade.

The firefighters who were first in the area had completely misjudged the situation. “None of them was capable of considering the possibility of a general failure or the need for mass evacuation”.

There are still hundreds of houses in the UK that contain flammable material such as the Grenfell Tower

Moore-Bick’s conclusion is that fewer people would have died if the evacuation order had been given by two o’clock. Survivors of the disaster welcomed the report and the conclusions drawn from it, even if they had to wait a long time, according to media reports.

Matt Wrack, the secretary general of the Fire Brigade Union, said on Tuesday that it was unjust to publicly blame only the fire department and not the political leadership that neglected the issue of fire fighting. There are still hundreds of houses in the UK that contain flammable material such as the Grenfell Tower. In England alone, 600 buildings could be affected.

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