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Union slams deadly fire failings and cuts

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Issue 2704
Marking Firefighters Memorial Day last week
Marking Firefighters Memorial Day last week (Pic: Mark Thomas and FBU)

Firefighters have attacked the government and building owners as a parliamentary committee’s cladding survey highlighted widespread safety failings.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee last week published the findings of a survey into the progress of work to improve fire safety in residential buildings.

It showed significant fire safety issues in multi-occupancy buildings across Britain.

The survey found that some 70 percent of respondents had different forms of combustible cladding. Other common fire safety issues included missing or inadequate fire breaks, combustible or missing insulation, timber balconies or walkways and inadequate fire doors.

Matt Wrack, FBU union general secretary, said, “The government, big business and wealthy building owners have had three years since Grenfell to fix the dangerous homes still trapping thousands of residents.

“The accounts in this report should make them feel utterly ashamed. Both residents and firefighters have warned the government and building owners countless times that this crisis goes far beyond the cladding that was on Grenfell Tower.

“But, just as with Grenfell residents, they were ignored.”

Last month the FBU warned of a major threat to public safety as politicians and fire chiefs try to sneak through cuts to services during the coronavirus crisis.

The union said a consultation on sweeping fire and rescue cuts was launched mid-pandemic.

Firefighters have agreed to take on new duties to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. They include moving dead bodies, driving ambulances, and producing PPE.

But the Tory-controlled fire authority in East Sussex has decided to consult on cuts to the county’s fire service.

The proposals include major cuts to the number of fire engines, staffing levels, and night time fire cover.

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