29 October 2019 02:37
MORE residents could have been saved from the Grenfell Tower tragedy had the London Fire Brigade not suffered from "serious shortcomings" and "systemic" failures, the first official report into the fire will say. The report, due to be published on Wednesday, will also accuse the brigade's commissioner, Dany Cotton, of "remarkable insensitivity" after she told the inquiry into the disaster that she would not change decisions she made on the night. 3 The first official report into the Grenfell Tower fire will say that more people could have been saved 3 It will also accuse brigade commissioner Dany Cotton of 'remarkable insensitivity' over her testimony before the inquiry Credit: PA:Press Association The report will mark the first release of findings from an ongoing inquiry into the fire, which killed 72 people when it engulfed a west London tower block in the early hours of the morning on 14 June 2017. The inquiry was announced the day after the fire by then-prime minister Theresa May, and has heard evidence form fire brigade staff, witnesses, and survivors. Survivors of the fire have been allowed to view the long-awaited report ahead of publication, though have had to sign non-disclosure agreements.
In the report, seen ahead of publication by the Telegraph, inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick says the fire was started by an electrical fault in a fridge-freezer. But he goes on to criticise the London Fire Brigade's so-called stay-put strategy, under which residents were advised to remain in the flats for nearly two hours after the outbreak of the fire. "That decision could and should have been made between 1.30am and 1.50am and would be likely to have resulted in fewer fatalities," Sir Martin says. "The best part of an hour was lost before Assistant Commissioner Roe revoked the 'stay put' advice." Earlier this month, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton admitted that the stay-put policy was not suitable for a fire like that at Grenfell, where the blaze was not contained within the flat in which it had started. She had earlier defended the policy, telling the inquiry that the rapid spread of the fire up the outside of the building had been so unexpected that firefighters had been right to tell residents to stay in their homes.
Sir Martin's report praises the heroics and bravery of individual firefighters, but says: "I identify a number of serious shortcomings in the response of the LFB, both in the operation of the control room and on the incident ground. He also says that the brigade's preparation and planning for a fire like the one that destroyed Grenfell was "gravely inadequate". MOST READ IN NEWS SET FOR LIFE Mum, 41, and dad, 39, RETIRE after saving £1.6m doing 2nd jobs as Uber drivers CHIMNEY TRAGEDY Man dies after getting trapped upside down on 290ft chimney for 14 hours Exclusive AMAZIN! A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: "The Inquiry's findings are not being published until Wednesday morning and it would be inappropriate for us to comment on them until then." Responding to details of the report having emerged ahead of publication, an inquiry spokeswoman said the chairman and whole team were "dismayed and disappointed". 3 Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick will also say the London Fire Brigade's preparation for such a fire was gravely inadequate Credit: EPA Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Sir Martin Moore-Bick was once dogged by controversy following his appointment to lead the investigations but his criticisms of the authorities and the improvement of the constructing on Monday perceived to ease fears of a whitewash amongst those touched by the tragedy. Dozens of survivors and grieving family were handed the file, which weighs around 4kg, on Monday morning to enable them to digest the findings earlier than the formal newsletter on Wednesday. Behailu Kebede, the occupant of Flat 16 on the fourth ground of Grenfell Tower, will doubtless be absolved of any blame for the inferno which started in his kitchen. Fewer people were likely to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire had residents been evacuated while it was still possible and "serious shortcomings" not plagued the fire service's response, an official report into the tragedy said. The public inquiry's first report into the blaze, due to be published on Wednesday but seen by the PA news agency, identified "systemic" failures by the London Fire Brigade (LFB). It also accused the brigade's commissioner Dany Cotton of "remarkable insensitivity" after she said she would not have done anything differently on the night. Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said fewer people may have died if key decisions had been made earlier, and made a number of recommendations following the two-year investigation into how the disaster at the west London tower block unfolded. Former London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton (Gareth Fuller/PA) In the report, Sir Martin said the "principal reason" the flames shot up the building at such speed was the combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a "source of fuel". The report also concluded the fire, in which 72 people died, started as the result of an "electrical fault in a large fridge-freezer" in a fourth floor flat. Sir Martin said Behailu Kebede, who had lived in the flat, bore no blame for the fire. Sir Martin also criticised the London Fire Brigade for its "stay-put" strategy when residents were told to remain in their flats by firefighters and 999 operators for nearly two hours after the blaze broke out just before 1am. Sir Martin said: "That decision could and should have been made between 1.30am and 1.50am and would be likely to have resulted in fewer fatalities. "The best part of an hour was lost before Assistant Commissioner Roe revoked the 'stay put' advice." He added: "I identify a number of serious shortcomings in the response of the LFB, both in the operation of the control room and on the incident ground. Sir Martin also said "the LFB's preparation and planning for a fire such as that at Grenfell Tower was gravely inadequate." And he said those giving advice to trapped residents during 999 calls were "not aware of the danger of assuming that crews would always reach callers" – a key lesson from the Lakanal House fire in 2009, when six people died. How quickly the fire spread across the east/north face of Grenfell Tower. Sir Martin also took exception to Ms Cotton's evidence that she would not change anything about the response of the fire service on the night. "Quite apart from its remarkable insensitivity to the families of the deceased and to those who escaped from their burning homes with their lives," he said, "the Commissioner's evidence that she would not change anything about the response of the LFB on the night, even with the benefit of hindsight, only serves to demonstrate that the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire." He also said Ms Cotton's evidence "betrayed an unwillingness to confront the fact that by 2017 the LFB knew (even if she personally did not) that there was a more than negligible risk of a serious fire in a high rise building with a cladding system". An LFB spokeswoman said: "The Inquiry's findings are not being published until Wednesday morning and it would be inappropriate for us to comment on them until then." An inquiry spokeswoman said the chairman and whole team were "dismayed and disappointed" that media had "chosen to deprive those most affected by the fire – the bereaved, survivors and residents – the opportunity to read the report at their own pace and without the distraction of public discussion and commentary ahead of publication". She added: "The inquiry has no further comment to make at this time."