Unite reasserted its solidarity with the Grenfell community and London firefighters today (October 29) after parts of the inquiry into the tragedy that criticise the London Fire Brigade were leaked to the press.
According to the BBC, which saw sections of the report before its official publication tomorrow, the London Fire Brigade has been censured for “serious shortcomings” in its response to the fire that killed 72 people.
Responding to the leak, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack said the inquiry was “back to front”.
He said, “The truth is that the fire spread the way it did because it was wrapped in flammable cladding. The firefighters turned up after that had happened, after the building had already been turned, in reality, into a death trap.
“Firefighters’ actions on the night, which were remarkable in the circumstances, are now being scrutinised. Nobody is trying to avoid scrutiny, but we think that the ordering of the inquiry is completely back to front.”
Unite, which is representing almost 70 families in the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire also said the inquiry’s priority should have been to focus on the causes of the fire before the evacuation.
Unite assistant general secretary for political and legal affairs Howard Beckett said, “It is wrong that the inquiry has chosen not to start with the cladding or sprinkler failures and government inaction, but instead on the men and women of London Fire Brigade who risked their lives to save others.”
Beckett added that the inquiry’s focus risks diverting attention from the central causes of the Grenfell Tower tragedy which are “associated with greed, big business, the failure of regulation and a Conservative local authority”.
“All the while ministers are avoiding scrutiny and we still have the scandal of people living in fear because of failures to remove dangerous cladding from buildings,” Beckett said.
In supporting families affected by the Grenfell Tower, Unite is pursuing a judicial review over the failure to rehouse people, in addition to personal injury cases and legal action in the United States over the tower’s cladding.
“Unite stands in solidarity with the Grenfell families, the Fire Brigades Union and the men and women of London’s Fire Brigade,” Beckett added.
We will not rest until we achieve justice and answers for the families of Grenfell and secure the changes in regulation necessary to stop another tragedy.”