Published September 23, 2019
Fire Brigade Union chiefs insists years of political indecision are to blame for the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
They insist 40 years of political fudging, cuts and a refusal to heed expert advice ultimately resulted in the deaths of 72 people.
The Fire Brigades Union last night published a pamphlet entitled ‘The Grenfell Tower Fire: A crime caused by profit and deregulation’ at the Labour Party Conference.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the launch alongside Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, and Gill Kernick, a former Grenfell resident and a building safety expert.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack added: ‘A deep-seated culture of complacency has developed regarding fire policy and fire safety and central government bears ultimate responsibility.’ The union said high-rise residential buildings across the UK were still clad with flammable materials, while the fire and rescue service has yet to research and develop an evacuation strategy.
The FBU pamphlet alleges that successive governments over the past 40 years have fluffed political decisions relating to housing, local government, the fire and rescue service, research, an agenda of cuts, deregulation and privatisation.
They believe the combination ultimately was to blame for the Grenfell disaster.
In this pamphlet, the FBU shows how this political approach has weakened and undermined fire policy and the fire and rescue service. We believe a deep-seated culture of complacency has developed with regard to fire policy and fire safety. Ultimately, politicians at a ministerial level must bear responsibility for the creation of this complacency and its consequences.
It states: “The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is appalled that more than two years since the Grenfell Tower fire, there is still no justice for the bereaved, survivors and residents.
“Firefighters share the community’s anger that those immediately responsible for putting combustible cladding on the exterior of this high rise residential building – the architects and designers, the tenant management organisation, the councillors and construction firms – have not been held to account.
“Our union is also concerned that the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, set up by the Westminster government, has so far failed to produce a report and urgent recommendations to ensure such a fire never happens again.
“High rise residential buildings across the UK are still clad with flammable materials, but still the fire and rescue service has yet to research and seek to develop an evacuation strategy, let alone implement such a strategy with training and equipment and embed it into firefighting practice.
“The FBU believes that the terrible loss of life at Grenfell Tower was ultimately caused by political decisions made at the highest level. For at least 40 years, policies relating to housing, local government, the fire and rescue service, research and other areas have been driven by the agenda of cuts, deregulation and privatisation.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: ‘The government has taken immediate action on public safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
“We’ve allocated £600m for the removal and replacement of dangerous ACM cladding on high-rise homes and are working with councils to ensure this work is completed.
“We made clear that we agree with Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.
“We said that we will take forward her recommendations and outlined plans to do so in the Building a Safer Future implementation plan, published in December 2018, which will bring in a tougher regulatory system for the future.”
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