Dismore raises lessons to be learned from Grenfell Tower tragedy
At today’s Mayor’s Question Time, London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan about learning the lessons from Grenfell Tower. (video here)
Mr Dismore said:
‘I am sure we all will join in expressing our sympathies and condolences to the survivors and bereaved; and in commending the outstanding courage and bravery of our firefighters, police officers and ambulance staff. For all the lessons to come out, we will of course have to await the outcome of Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s judicial inquiry, and you are right to demand the full involvement of the residents with appropriate legal aid backing, and also the interim report by Sir Ken Knight, but would you agree that one obvious lesson is the need for far better communication with, and co-ordination of, immediate help and support to those affected by the fire, and who lost everything?
‘We have already seen that the Fire Commissioner has increased the Pre-Determined Attendance for high rise fires, and you have rightly asked the Commissioner to advise you on what additional resources she considers the LFB needs. Would you agree we also need to look at the requirements for and suitability of taller aerial appliances like the one we borrowed from Surrey and of the drones borrowed from Kent. Will you look at Extended Duration Breathing Apparatus; and also radio communications, which was also an issue thrown up by the Kings Cross inquiry 30 years ago? What approaches have you made to Government to ensure they contribute their fair share of funding towards the LFB’s requirements?
‘Would you agree that we need to revisit the cuts of the previous Mayor, especially in the reduction of fire safety inspecting officers? I hope you won’t tell me to ‘get stuffed’ as Boris Johnson did when I challenged him at the time, but do you also agree a wider issue may be the former Mayor’s cuts to stations, pumps and firecrews, though that will be for inquiry to determine?
‘The Brigade has also done a lot of work, predating the Grenfell fire, on the need to improve the regulatory framework, the recall of defective white goods, and especially after Lakanal, the need to implement the coroner’s recommendation on the retrofitting of sprinklers: indeed apart from Grenfell, only last week in a 15 Pump fire, a Hackney school burned down where no sprinklers were fitted. Will you be raising these LFB recommendations again urgently with the Government, as they do not need to await the findings of the inquiry?‘
The Mayor said that the communications have been awful from day 1 and haven’t improved much. He has asked the Commissioner to produce urgently a list of what the Brigade needs so firefighters have the equipment they require. He has told the Commissioner to get on with it, given the lead in time after a fire. The Fire Brigade’s London Safety Plan will be revisited in light of Grenfell. He regularly raised the regulatory issues with the Prime Minister’s taskforce. It was in 2013 that the coroner made 3 recommendations on retrofitting sprinklers, looking at cladding regulations and fire safety advice to tenants. None has happened yet.
Mr Dismore added, to the agreement of the Mayor, that:
‘The Kings Cross inquiry 30 years ago produced a step-change in tube fire safety and firefighter protection, let’s hope this inquiry produces a step-change in fire safety in tower blocks.’