London Fire Brigade still has “a very long way to go” to address failings from the Grenfell Tower fire, a new report has found.
The capital’s fire service has only completed four of the 29 recommendations made to it by the first stage of the inquiry into the fatal 2017 blaze, according to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Responding to the findings, HM Inspector Matt Parr said the brigade “still isn’t in a position to assure itself that if something similar to Grenfell happened again it would have improved” and inspectors are “not clear” how the remaining recommendations will be implemented.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Parr added the inspectorate “were slightly surprised at how few” of the recommendations made in October 2019 the service “had got ticked off” so far.
Of the recommendations yet to be hit, 18 are listed as ‘delayed’, including changing advice from “stay put” to “get out”.
In 2019, chairman of the Grenfell Inquiry, Sir Martin Moore Bick suggested there would have been fewer fatalities if the LFB and 999 operators had reversed the strategy to tell residents to stay in their flats sooner.
The instruction remained for nearly two hours after the blaze broke out just before 1am, until 2.47am.
This inspection was carried out between October and December 2020, and the brigade expects to complete a further 17 recommendations by March 2021.
Mr Parr said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused some “unavoidable delays” to progress, and the HMICFRS have identified a number of areas where improvements should be made.
They include a need for practical training exercises relating to high-rise building fires for incident commanders, and better management of action plans to help implement the inquiry’s recommendations more quickly.
Mr Parr said in a statement: “The London Fire Brigade has recognised the scale of the changes needed to address its failings from that tragic night, but it still has much more work to do.
“I am encouraged by the brigade’s progress, especially over the last year, and we know the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some unavoidable delays.
“However, there is still a very long way to go – particularly on training for fires in high-rise residential buildings. As it stands, we are not clear how this work will be completed.
He added: “The London Fire Brigade must now act quickly to show it has learned the lessons from Grenfell – not only to reassure victims, survivors and their families, but to ensure public safety.”
London Fire Brigade said when the recommendations were made in 2019 it “committed to making improvements across the organisation as quickly as possible.”
Deputy Commissioner Richard Mills said: “We know there is more we can do and must do to keep Londoners safe and we will continue to work hard, to not only complete all of the recommendations, but to continue our learning so that we can adapt and reduce the number and impact of fires.”
He added: “We are accountable to every Londoner and we appreciate the trust they invest in us. We are and will continue to be responsible for our actions each day as we work alongside the communities we serve.”
Fire minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “The Grenfell Tower fire was a national tragedy that must not be repeated. We know that lessons must be learned, including for the London Fire Brigade. That is why the Home Secretary commissioned this review.
“I’m encouraged to see that progress is being made despite the challenges of the pandemic, but we know there is more to do.
“The Home Office has introduced important legislation to improve fire safety in tower blocks and provided £30 million nationally to the fire sector this year to deliver improvements and ensure delivery of the Grenfell recommendations.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe