The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has issued a “chilling warning to the prime minister” on the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower inferno, saying the next high rise blaze outside the capital will be even worse than the one that killed 72 people in London.
Bells rang out at 6pm this evening (Sunday) to remember the dead. Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer paid tribute to the victims during a virtual commemoration service, with the prime minister assuring: “As a nation, we are still dealing with the consequences of what happened and working to make sure it never happens again.”
‘Different regions have drastically different standards’
His words add urgency to the FBU’s warning about the “next” blaze outside London being “worse than Grenfell” because fire brigades around the country have too varied “pre-determined attendance (PDA) levels” which dictate the number of engines sent to tackle a blaze.
“Lives in London and the south east are worth no more than the rest of the country, yet different regions have drastically different standards,” said Matt Wrack, the FBU general secretary, calling the “shocking” situation “a chilling warning to the prime minister”.
Wrack said: “The loss of 72 lives three years ago was deeply traumatic. But there is a good chance that the next Grenfell will be outside London, in an area where fewer resources are mobilised to a fire, and the loss of life could be worse still.”
The FBU said “many brigades would not be able to mobilise anywhere near the scale” needed to tackle a fire like the one that started in a small kitchen on the fourth floor of a tower block in Kensington, west London, three years ago tonight (June 14).
Around the country some 56,000 people still live in buildings covered with the flammable cladding that caused Grenfell Tower to become engulfed so quickly, according to new analysis published yesterday by the Labour party.
‘Nothing has changed,’ says victim’s nephew of
Meanwhile, survivors and relatives of Grenfell have expressed their disbelief that, three years after the disaster, the public inquiry into it is yet to conclude.
“A lot has changed, but nothing has changed,” said Karim Mussilhy, nephew of Hesham Rahman, one of 72 to die in the blaze.
“We’re still talking about cladding, we’re still talking about justice. The public inquiry keeps stopping and starting.
“It never feels like there’s any urgency with the emergency that this country is in with the whole cladding situation.”