Grenfell Tower inquiry: expert explains four main findings – and how emergency services must improve

Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s long-awaited phase one report on the Grenfell Tower fire has been published. This report examines the facts of an extremely complicated situation on the night of June 14, 2017, which resulted in the tragic loss of 72 lives. Investigate the cause of the fire, how it developed and the actions taken by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) and other emergency services.

Gary Chartrand

Understandably, the response to the findings, which underscore the failures of the emergency services, has been immediate and intense, with survivors calling for the resignation of London Fire Chief Dany Cotton. However, the report is over 830 pages long and it will take some time to review and understand the results in detail. For now, I have drawn on my experience in managing emergency services to summarize the report’s key findings and recommendations.

1. Ask owners and managers to share information on building design and materials.
Although the report criticized the fact that LFB was unaware of the combustible nature of the materials used in the outer cladding surrounding the Grenfell tower, it concluded that the cladding was largely responsible for spreading the fire so rapidly.
The report recommends that the owners and managers of each high-rise residential building (more than 18 meters high) provide the local fire and rescue service with information on the design of the exterior walls and details of the materials they are built from. This is an important recommendation, which should help local fire services recognize the nature of any fire they face and make contingency plans to address specific types of fires.

2. Develop national guidelines for the evacuation of skyscrapers.

Moore-Bick praised the firefighters who attended the tower for their extraordinary courage and selfless dedication to duty, but concluded that the absence of an operational evacuation plan was a “grave omission” in preparing the LFB for a fire in a building such as Grenfell Tower. .

The report discussed at length whether the “stay-in-place” policy, recommending tower residents to stay inside their apartments to compartmentalize the fire, could be revised by the brigade earlier this year. the night, to save more lives. This is undoubtedly one of the most emotional and controversial issues raised in the relationship.

The report also called for a legal obligation for the owners and managers of each high-rise residential building to draw up evacuation plans and the need for emergency planning, including loudspeakers and siren systems, to alert residents to understand the drill. . evacuation when necessary. This can be more difficult to implement, especially in tower blocks with individual stairs. Safety concerns of the elderly and young children in such settings may require the government to pass new laws to specify planning requirements for the number of stairs and elevators.

3. Improve response, training and communication within the fire department.

The report was critical of the LFB’s response, both on the ground and in the control room where calls to the 999s were handled, especially with regards to how caller information was processed and shared with the ground commanders. The investigation found that senior control room personnel lacked the training necessary to handle a large-scale incident, while the operational commanders lacked the training to recognize the need for an evacuation or organize one.

The report concluded with recommendations to improve call handling and staff training and develop better communication channels between ground staff and in the control room to facilitate direct communication. It also recommended providing an integrated system of recording fire safety guidance information.

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