The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has released a new pamphlet which lays the ultimate responsibility for the Grenfell Tower disaster with central government. It says deregulation from consecutive governments since Margaret Thatcher has ‘gutted’ the UK’s fire safety regime, leading to the tragedy.
The pamphlet’s launch will take place on 23 September at the Labour conference. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak at the event alongside Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, and former Grenfell resident and building safety expert Gill Kernick.
The 50-page report states that:
Since the 1980s, the management of risk has squeezed out ﬁreﬁghters, other workers and their trade union representatives who practise ﬁre safety as their profession. This expertise has mostly been substituted with management consultants, industry lobbyists and chief ﬁre ofﬁcers. These agents have operated within a political climate that has emphasised the need for reducing regulation. This has been driven by central government.
The pamphlet, meanwhile, details the history of fire safety deregulation in the UK over decades. For example, it documents how – under Thatcher – the government cut building regulations from more than 300 pages to just 25. In the pamphlet, the FBU also says:
In parallel to watering down building safety regulation, Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s attacked the laws designed to improve ﬁre safety, underfunded the ﬁre service and attacked national standards meant to help ﬁreﬁghters protect the public.
Furthermore, it notes decisions made by Tony Blair’s government, which the FBU says continued Thatcher’s “deregulatory drive”. The pamphlet says Blair’s Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004:
abolished national standards of ﬁre cover, allowing local services to set attendance targets (time taken by the ﬁre service to reach a fire) for their own areas… [and] abolished the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council
The FBU report also states that David Cameron’s “one in, two out” policy on new regulations removed further ‘red tape’. Meanwhile, Cameron’s coalition government cut funding for fire and rescue services by an average of 28%, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).
“Culture of complacency”
the terrible loss of life at Grenfell Tower was ultimately caused by political decisions made at the highest level. For at least 40 years, policies relating to housing, local government, the fire and rescue service, research and other areas have been driven by the agenda of cuts, deregulation and privatisation. …
Deregulation has been the dominant political ideology of most politicians in central government for decades. But it has also been fostered by the direct lobbying of private business interests. A deep-seated culture of complacency has developed regarding fire policy and fire safety and central government bears ultimate responsibility.
72 people died in the fire that consumed Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017. A report into the disaster said evidence “strongly supports” the idea that cladding was the lead cause of the fire spreading. Earlier this year, a BBC investigation warned that many of England’s 1,700 “at risk” buildings could fail new safety tests introduced after the Grenfell tragedy.
Featured image via ChiralJon/Wikimedia
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?