Socialist Worker

Grenfell campaigners fight on for justice in wake of report

by Gabby Thorpe
Issue No. 2679

A previous billboard protest by the Justice4Grenfell campaign

A previous billboard protest by the Justice4Grenfell campaign (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Grenfell survivors and relatives have vowed to keep up their fight for justice after an inquiry’s report into the tower block fire was published on Wednesday.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, chair of the public inquiry, called on the government to take “urgent action”. His interim report from the inquiry’s first phase looks into the causes of the fire and the authorities’ response.

At least 72 people were killed in the blaze on 14 June 2017.

It said the fire was able to spread due to the flammable cladding that was added to the tower’s outer walls during a refurbishment in 2014-16.

And, in one of his most significant findings, Moore-Bick ruled that the refurbishment breached building regulations. He said that the building’s walls “did not adequately resist the spread of fire over them” and “on the contrary promoted it”.

Matt Wrack, FBU firefighters’ union general secretary, 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.”

A large part of the report focuses on the London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) response on the night of the fire. Moore-Bick praised the bravery of fire fighters at the scene, but said “systematic failings” meant more lives were lost.

His findings said that “both personnel and systems were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster”. Junior ranking firefighters were sent to the scene to act as commanders with no real knowledge of how to handle high rise buildings.

And emergency call operators were so overwhelmed they were unable to advise residents correctly on how best to act.

Bravery 

Grenfell—two years without justice
Grenfell—two years without justice
  Read More

Survivors’ group Grenfell United said LFB must “stop hiding behind the bravery of their front-line fire fighters”.

The report’s recommendations include a building safety law. This would require owners of high rise buildings to inform local fire services of the materials used on the exterior of their buildings.

It also called for an immediate inspection of fire doors and lifts in all high rise buildings.

Earlier in the day the Justice4Grenfell campaign unveiled three billboards in London. They read, “Cover up 72 dead, never again,” “Grenfell Inquiry Report Recommendations: Government does not have to implement...” and "How come...???”.

Judy Bolton, a Justice4Grenfell campaigner who lost relatives in the fire, said, “I feel that the inquiry is actually back to front.

“The inquiry should have started with challenging what led up to Grenfell.

“Deregulation and cuts within the fire service, within social housing, all of those things, it should have been able to start there.

“For us, justice for Grenfell is about leaving a legacy and that means challenging social change.

“Grenfell was a microcosm of everything that is wrong with this country today. It’s about social housing, about deregulation, about cuts, about austerity, about simple people wanting to be able to work and live in decent housing.”

The Tories and housing bosses are to blame—and there is still a fight to be had to win justice.


When government and housing bosses ignored fire safety concerns 

  1. ·The coroner called for a review of “stay put” after the 2009 Lakanal house fire. Firefighters called for a national review of policy when stay put fails. The government ignored them.
  2. ·The 2005 fire safety order watered down fire safety. Firefighters warned this would lead to fewer inspections. Government ignored them.
  3. ·Firefighters warned that brigades were not sufficiently prepared for high-rise fires after the 1999 Garnock Court fire. The government ignored them.
  4. ·Firefighters warned of the dangers of flammable cladding after the 1999 Garnock Court fire. The government ignored them.
  5. ·Local campaigners from the Grenfell Action Group had warned that exactly this kind of tragedy was waiting to happen. One blog post suggested that “only an incident that results in serious loss of life” would cause the council’s practices to be scrutinised.
  6. ·Another shows ten instances when the council was warned about the safety of the building.

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