Government failure means after two years the Grenfell tragedy could happen again

Grenfell Tower

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has spoken out, saying “nothing much” has been done to improve firefighter training since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

This came shortly after news emerged that the inquiry report about the fire will be published on 30 October 2019. Grenfell survivors and bereaved families fear this means it will be “buried in Brexit”.

“An excuse for Government to do nothing”

On the night of the fire, it’s thought that 999 operators told over half of the 72 people who died to remain in their flats. A full evacuation order came two hours later. But by then, “toxic black smoke” had filled the building which was also engulfed in flames. It’s expected that the inquiry report will “criticise the firefighting response at Grenfell”. Yet nothing’s been done yet to change the so-called ‘stay-put strategy’.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack criticised failures to examine the “feasibility of high-rise evacuations” and put nationally-agreed measures in place to prevent another tragedy. According to the Telegraph, Wrack criticised fire policy “fragmentation”. He feels since 2017 “nothing much” happened to help firefighters approach a similar disaster. He continued:

It just seems to be a process of kicking the can down the road, an excuse for Government to do nothing – and nothing significant has happened in the past two and a half years. We were promised change, I haven’t seen any change.

With stay-put, why would you sit back and wait for three years before doing something?

Wrack also asked:

Read on...

Is the inquiry able to say what the answer to stay-put is, or is it going to say ‘someone needs to do something about stay-put’?

At which stage you ask, ‘why couldn’t you have done that within six months of the fire?’.

Labour MP for Kensington Emma Dent Coad said failure to act means a similar tragedy “could happen tomorrow”:

“Burying it in Brexit”

As The Canary reported on 4 October, chair of the Grenfell United campaign Natasha Elcock wrote to inquiry chairman Martin Moore-Bick. She urged Sir Martin to seek a new date for the inquiry report. Because publishing “the report on October 30”, she said, “risks burying it in Brexit”. Elcock criticised the lack of consultation with bereaved families and survivors. She also noted:

This is not the first time we have had to question whether bereaved families and survivors are really at the heart of this inquiry.

“Continued disrespect and neglect”

The Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group also issued a statement offering full support for Elcock’s letter. It called the publication date a “deliberate ploy” to relegate:

the value, importance, and national interest of the disaster to the bottom of the pile of continued disrespect and neglect.

It also stressed the need to bring the report publication forward to give “it the full public attention that it needs and deserves”. Justice 4 Grenfell also insisted:

The bereaved and survivors and community will not be silenced or shut down by governmental tactics of cloaking and silence.

The group also asked:

For the 72 known souls who perished at the hands of social indifference, neglect and malaise; that their voices must be heard and their story told.

Featured image via Fréa Lockley

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?

The Canary Support us