Cleveland fire chiefs test readiness after Grenfell Tower findings

Fire chiefs have tested their readiness after learning lessons from the first stage of investigations into the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 10:15 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 2:42 pm
Grenfell Tower after firefighters extinguished the flames. File picture from PA

Members of Cleveland Fire Authority discussed the publication of phase one into the enquiry of the disaster and how they compare to the issues raised.

The fire at Grenfell Tower, which took place in June 2017, took the lives of 72 people in total, and left hundreds more with physical and psychological injuries.

The inquiry looked at the causes of the fire, the subsequent fire spread and development, and the steps taken by London Fire Brigade and other emergency services responding to it.

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Cleveland Fire Brigade HQ

Chief Fire Officer at Cleveland Fire Brigade Ian Hayton said all services can learn a lot from the incident and the inquiry into it.

He said: “There are clearly lessons to be learnt from every single incident we attend, regardless of whether it is of this magnitude or a smaller one.

“While the lessons are focused towards London, quite clearly every fire and rescue service in the country can take the report and consider those lessons.

“We’ve stood up our operational team to consider the report against our procedure process and information gathering, to ensure that we would be able to cope with an incident of this nature.

“Undoubtedly on that night it was an incident that challenged, and would challenge any fire and rescue service.”

He also added one of the issues raised by the report was the failure of co-operation between the police, fire brigade and ambulance service, which is an area he said Cleveland excels in.

Mr Hayton said: “They are well-rehearsed, well-practised to our high hazard industrial footprint here.

“Part of that is the co-location, if we had an operational incident we all co-locate to ensure that integration of the response to any particular incident is well coordinated.

“We do have an exercise regime where we practice that on a constant basis so one of the strengths here is because of that, our joint working with other emergency services is well-founded.”

Mr Hayton said the report found there were ‘significant failings’ both in the construction and the design of the building and the emergency response to it.

He added it said the cause of the fire was due to the construction, design, maintenance and management of that building, which will be explored more in the next phase of the inquiry.

Coun Teresa Higgins, Middlesbrough Council representative on the authority, added the local authority for the area also has to be held to account, and noted it was a tough situation for the firefighters.

She said: “In circumstances like that, which have never happened before, those firemen and women went into that building and did the best they could.”