Report: Fire brigade 'wouldn't do any better in Grenfell No2'

Fire brigade ‘wouldn’t do any better in Grenfell No2’: Scathing report slams lack of improvements in the four years since inferno ripped through London tower block, killing 72 people

  • London Fire Brigade is ‘not in a position’ to do better in a second Grenfell-like fire
  • It has not officially dropped advice for high-rise flat residents to stay put in a fire
  • The service has only completed four of 29 recommendations for improvement 

The London Fire Brigade is ‘not in a position’ to do better in the event of a second Grenfell-like fire, a report said yesterday.

The damning conclusion by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services comes nearly four years after the blaze claimed 72 lives in 2017.

His report found that the service had only completed four of 29 recommendations for improvement – and that, astonishingly, it has still not officially dropped its controversial advice for residents in high-rise flats to ‘stay put’ in a fire.

Of the 25 outstanding issues, seven were listed as being ‘on track’ and 18 had been tagged as ‘delayed’ – including the change to the ‘stay put’ policy.

The damning conclusion by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services comes nearly four years after the blaze claimed 72 lives in 2017

In November 2019, a report by the public inquiry into the disaster highlighted dozens of failings by the London Fire Brigade (LFB), starting before the fire broke out.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the retired judge who is leading the inquiry, said the fire service’s planning for a tower block fire was ‘gravely inadequate’ and had ignored recommendations made after a high-rise fire at Lakanal House in 2009, which killed six.

He said that on the night of the Grenfell fire, the LFB’s delay in changing the advice from ‘stay put’ to ‘evacuate’ had cost lives.

Mr Parr praised the frontline firemen who fought the Grenfell inferno as ‘heroic and selfless’

Sir Martin sent 46 recommendations, of which 29 were related to the LFB, to Downing Street and said they required urgent action ‘without delay’. 

Yesterday, Matt Parr, an HMICFRS inspector, said: ‘I don’t think that anyone can say with confidence that a similar fire would produce a vastly better response and frankly it should.

‘The brigade still isn’t in a position to assure itself its performance would be vastly improved.’

Mr Parr praised the frontline firemen who fought the Grenfell inferno as ‘heroic and selfless’. 

But he said the LFB has ‘got a very long way to go’ – particularly on training for fires in high-rise residential buildings. He admitted that he was not clear how or when these issues would be addressed.

A new policy moving away from the blanket advice to stay put in the event of a fire will be officially implemented next month, he added. 

Mr Parr said: ‘The LFB must now act quickly to show it has learned the lessons from Grenfell – not only to reassure victims, survivors and their families, but to ensure public safety.’

The scathing report found that updated staff training exercises on high-rise buildings were not being carried out. It also said that the service had still not improved its ability to distinguish between callers who were seeking advice and callers who needed rescuing.

A spokesman for Grenfell United, the bereaved and survivors group, said: ‘To hear that ‘stay put’ is still in place and the fire service is no closer to a national evacuation policy is devastating for families who lost loved ones in Grenfell.’

Richard Mills, LFB deputy commissioner, said: ‘We know there is more we can and must do to keep Londoners safe and we will continue to work hard, to not only complete all of the recommendations, but to continue our learning… 

‘The pandemic has impacted our progress on several areas of work and caused… some activities to be delayed. Even with these obstacles we remain committed to completing the recommendations.’

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the retired judge who is leading the inquiry, said the fire service’s planning for a tower block fire was ‘gravely inadequate’ and had ignored recommendations made after a high-rise fire at Lakanal House in 2009, which killed six

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