PRESS RELEASE: Grenfell Inquiry Findings an Absolute Disgrace and an Insult to Our Brave Firefighters

For Release at 0001hrs on

Wednesday 30th October 2019

Grenfell Inquiry Findings an Absolute Disgrace

and an Insult to Our Brave Firefighters

The leaked findings of the Grenfell Inquiry, which places the blame for the tragedy at the feet of Firefighters and the Fire Service, have been widely and rightly condemned.

The 935 page Public Enquiry Report due to be released at 10am today (Wednesday 30th October), but was leaked strategically to the media yesterday and in a sinister fashion, in a manner dishonourable to the victims and their families. It has been indicated that it will contain withering criticisms of the firefighters.

There appears to be no criticism of Councillors in Kensington & Chelsea Council, Government or Contractors.

Tommy Sheridan, Political Advisor for Solidarity said: “I am incandescent with rage after reading these leaks from the Report and listening to the treatment of the leaks on the mainstream broadcast media. These firefighters risked their own lives to try and save others. They entered a building which was in flames and dangerous and issued advice, which in every other tower block, fire saves lives.

“Seventy two lives were lost because of malign neglect, not benign mistakes. This was not a freak accident that no one could have foreseen, this was an entirely predictable tragedy, which residents had warned of, but were ignored.

“For years prior to the tragedy, firefighters warned the authorities of the inadequacies of the new Fire Safety standards, procedures and arrangements, but they were ignored. On the night tragedy struck, firefighters risked their lives to save the lives of many others and they should be praised not vilified.

“When Boris Johnston was the Mayor of London, he oversaw brutal cuts in the London Fire Brigade. He closed 10 Fire Stations, removed 27 Fire Appliances from the fleet and cut 552 firefighter posts and 324 support staff posts. He, along with the Tory councillors in Kensington and Chelsea Council, are the real villains of this tragedy, not the Fire Service, who have had to cope with vastly reduced resources. Yet, thus far, there has been no mention of this in any mainstream media outlet. What an utter disgrace”.

Ken Ross, Press & Media Officer and former Operational Firefighter said: “I served in the Fire Service in the city of Glasgow for 30 years. I know first-hand the difficulties involved in fighting a fire in a high rise building.

“High rise flats are built in blocks of concrete cubes, which don’t burn, and can keep a fire trapped inside the compartment for some considerable time. The only weak points in each flat are the doors and windows, but they should also meet a standard of fire resistance.

“Consequently, the greatest risk to occupants of other flats in the building are the smoke filled corridors leading to escape routes, hence the “Stay Put” policy (stay in your flat until the fire service give the all clear), which has been an effective and successful policy for many many years.

“However, the fire in Grenfell Towers was nothing like any UK firefighter has witnessed or had to deal with before. Normal tried and tested procedures were rendered unworkable as the fire spread through the cladding on the outside of the building, carrying the fire to every floor. So, incident commanders had to adapt so as to deal with the incident.

“They were faced with insurmountable difficulties and an unknown number of residents still in the building. The fire was so severe, that firefighters were instructed to write their names on their helmets in order to identify them, as it was highly likely they could perish in the inferno. Despite this, not one firefighter refused to enter the building. Their actions were nothing short of heroic.

“To blame Firefighters and the Fire Service for the failings of politicians, Government and local Government and contractors, is utterly contemptable. It is the biggest of insults to a body of men and women who commit their daily lives to the safety and wellbeing of the people in our Communities, up and down the country.

“Firefighters did not fail the people of Grenfell. The following people and organisations did…

· The people who made the decision to wrap Grenfell in flammable cladding.

· The people who made the cladding (the ignition of the polyethylene within the cladding panel produced a flaming reaction more quickly than dropping a match into a barrel of petrol).

· The contractors who left gaps around the windows and decided to plug those gaps with a material derived from crude oil, which produced the perfect medium for flame spread around the windows.

· Exova, the fire safety consultants used in the refurbishment, who had advised there would be no adverse impact on the spread of fire by the refurbishment.

· The insulation manufacturer, Celotex.

· CEP, the sub-contractor which bought and fabricated the cladding panels.

· Rydon, the main design and build contractor, who are now claiming they were not responsible for decisions relating to the cladding.

· The council and the tower’s landlords, the Tenant Management Organisation, who instigated and oversaw the botched refurbishment.

“All of these people and organisations have a collective responsibility. They all failed!!”


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