Grenfell inquiry: Calls for national evacuation guidelines

The 2017 blaze killed 72 people

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The introduction of national guidelines for evacuating high-rise buildings is one of 46 recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower inquiry published today.

The report heavily criticised the London Fire Brigade (LFB) for “gravely inadequate” preparation and a “major omission” by failing to have a proper evacuation plan in place.

The 24-storey residential tower block went up in flames on June 14, 2017, killing 72 people.

Today’s report, published by inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick, found that LFB incident commanders received “no training in how to recognise the need for an evacuation or how to organise one”.

It suggested more lives could have been saved had the “stay-put” policy been abandoned sooner.

Survivors have welcomed the damning report and bereaved family members said it was “heartbreaking” that more of their loved ones could have been saved.

LFB Commissioner Dany Cotton said many recommendations were welcome and would be “carefully and fully” considered by senior officers.

However, she said the brigade was “disappointed” by some of the criticism of individual staff members, who she said were "placed in completely unprecedented circumstances and faced the most unimaginable conditions while trying to save the lives of others”.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said members “strongly refute” that it would have been possible or safe for firefighters to evacuate more people in the conditions they faced.

In the Commons today, MPs held a minute's silence ahead of a debate on the report.

Boris Johnson said: "I am very much aware that no report, no words, no apology will ever make good the loss suffered and trauma experienced.

"But I hope that the findings being published today will bring some measure of comfort to those who suffered so much."

Meanwhile, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan criticised the government in his statement on the inquiry, claiming that calls for the installation of sprinklers and banning of combustible cladding had “fallen on deaf ears”.

These particular areas will be looked at further in the investigation’s second phase.

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