Victims of the Grenfell Tower fire were told to “stay put” by fire safety operators during the crucial early hours on 14 June 2017.
Operators of the initial calls made to the emergency services and fire fighters at the scene advised residents inside their flats to remain inside, close their windows and not attempt to come down to safety. Had they been advised differently the likelihood is that many deaths would have been prevented.
Both witness statements and The London Operational Fire Brigade response – which provides a timeline of the incident in accordance with CCTV footage – confirm that family members who had exited the building were also advised to tell their relatives still inside the building to close windows and stay inside their flats.
The first fire engine arrived at the scene at 00:59. The ‘stay put’ policy remained in place until 02:47 – an hour and 48 minutes after the arrival of the first fire engine – following a control room commander’s decision to abandon the policy in collaboration with the events unfolding on television and from fire officers on the ground.
Mr Michael Dowden, the highest ranking officer present at the time, was asked during the inquiry;
“Did you ever receive any training in how to re-evaluate advice offered during fire survival calls throughout the incident?”
“No, not that I can recall.”
He was also asked if he had any training as to how to follow an evacuation plan, he replied:
“Not that I can recall, no.”
Training was outsourced to a private company in 2012 which is now under scrutiny for not preparing the fire fighters for this type of incident.
The inquiry continues to divulge into the further evidence of training records and whether the fire fighters ought to have given different advice.
Author: Nilma Shah is a solicitor in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence department at Duncan Lewis with over 4 years post qualification experience. She is experienced in a mixed litigation cased load including fast track and multi-track claims and has dealt with a wide range of clinical negligence cases involving misdiagnosis, delay in diagnosis, surgical errors, and birth injury claims.
Contact Nilma on 020 3114 1274 or via email email@example.com.
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