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29-10-19

NFCC responds to leaked Grenfell Tower inquiry report

Following today's news reports about the Grenfell Tower Phase 1 report - ahead of its official publication - the National Fire Chiefs Council has voiced its disappointed that the report has been leaked before the bereaved, survivors and relatives have had a chance to read and understand the report. 

From the media reports, it appears the Inquiry focuses on what it refers to as 'serious shortcomings and systemic failure', in the London Fire Brigade's response. 

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Roy Wilsher, said: The claim that fewer people would have died in the fire if certain actions were taken earlier, is far from certain and almost impossible to prove.

“London Fire Brigade has my full support; I stand by them, all those who attended, and the difficult decisions which needed to be taken on the evening, there were undoubtedly courageous acts on the night and I have no doubt that everyone involved did everything to the best of their ability. 

“These news articles provide nothing more than a snapshot of the full report which is more than 1000 pages, which in my opinion is irresponsible. NFCC will respond to the report - in full - after giving careful consideration to the detail within it.

We will put an emphasis on lessons identified, how they can be turned into lessons learned and appropriate changes made to national guidance, while taking in to account the bigger picture, such as the condition of the building and how this impacted upon the fire service’s response. 

"I understand the Inquiry’s rationale for why it started with the operational response, but in my opinion, the inquiry should have started with the state of the building, not the response to the incident. The building’s state of repair and modifications contributed into how the fire behaved, therefore impacting on how the fire was tackled.  

"It is a national outrage that we still have more than 200 buildings with ACM cladding on the outside of them; 20 years of building safety failures seem to be being placed at the door of UK fire and rescue services. We have a broken system which needs fixing; the fire service is not responsible for doing this. I and NFCC colleagues have been working closely with government to make changes. The failure of those responsible for the building to step up to their obligations put both residents and firefighters at risk, which we are continuing to see across the country.

"Firefighters were in a highly-challenging situation; the building did not behave how anyone would expect it to, with the fire spreading up the entire length of the building in less than 30 minutes. It was unprecedented and I have never seen a fire like it in my career. Yet everyone who attended did their very best to save lives in incredibly difficult circumstances, and difficult incident command decisions had to be taken.

"There will be lessons to be learned from Grenfell which will be looked at and implemented across the building sector as well as the fire sector.

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