London fire chief: Response to another Grenfell-like blaze would be different

London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton said the service would respond differently to any tower block fire like the Grenfell tragedy in the future.

Ms Cotton was responding on Tuesday to questions at the London Assembly about the inquiry report into the fatal 2017 blaze which was released last week.

“Knowing what we know now about Grenfell Tower and similar buildings with ACM cladding, our response would be very different,” she told the fire resilience and emergency planning committee.

“Knowing what we know now the actions that we would take would mean that we would respond in a different way.”

Grenfell Tower fire: when people escaped
(PA Graphics)

The commissioner said the scale and magnitude of the 2017 blaze that killed 72 people had never been seen before in the UK.

She added that the brigade acknowledged all the recommendations made in the report and identified areas where training of its officers was “inadequate”.

“We have identified areas where our training was inadequate and where the information we collected was inadequate,” she said.

“We do recognise there are areas where clearly there was insufficient training for both our firefighters, control staff and officers.”

Following the publication of the #Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report, we have issued our statement below and in full here: https://t.co/BeaqENChyGpic.twitter.com/qIutBcFLgm

— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) October 30, 2019

Ms Cotton told the committee there were 40 fire engines at Grenfell and firefighters were there “in number in a very short space of time”.

“We physically could not have put any more firefighters into the building at one time,” she said, adding the single staircase in the tower limited the amount of personnel that could enter.

Ms Cotton said that although there is now a greater understanding of how fires in buildings with cladding spread, it would be difficult to implement training to respond to such situations.

Tower block fire in London
A fire engulfed the Grenfell Tower building in 2017 (Rick Findler/PA)

“Because it is still such an extraordinary event of such a significant scale we still have huge concerns, about the fires in those types of buildings,” she said.

The LFB commissioner came under fire last week when the inquiry chairman found more lives could have been saved if the “stay-put” policy been abandoned sooner.

Bereaved relatives of those who died in the fire called on Ms Cotton to resign.

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