THE government must be held to account over the Grenfell Tower tragedy, firefighters demanded before yesterday’s deadline for submissions to the inquiry.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said the the scope of the inquiry needs to be broad and must also focus on the effect of government cuts to the service along with the slashing of safety regulations.
Mr Wrack said so many factors that contributed to make a “perfect storm” for the horrific west London tower block fire, “and each of them needs to be examined and investigated in turn. A narrow inquiry would be utterly useless.”
He urged the government to make recommendations following its findings, just as the inquiries into the Kings Cross Station and Bradford City stadium fires did.
Around 300 submissions were expected on the scope of the inquiry with shadow fire minister Chris Williamson backing FBU calls for a broad investigation.
Mr Williamson said the union was absolutely pivotal to the inquiry and warned against a government whitewash.
The Labour MP for Derby North said the consequences of neoliberalism and its obsession with cuts and privatisation “led straight to Grenfell.”
And he warned of a “grossly underfunded” fire service desperately lacking resources.
“Firefighters went repeatedly into that burning building but they shouldn’t use breathing apparatus for long periods,” Mr Williamson said.
“The effects of this can thicken the blood and risks coronary arrest. Firefighters went into the building at least three times and could have collapsed and perished.
Mr Williamson explained that Labour is calling for a two-stage inquiry, which must consider why the fire started and why it spread so quickly, and then why the residents weren’t listened to.
Mr Wrack said the FBU was seeking core participant status in the inquiry.#
“We also want those at the very top — in central government — held to account. Their actions and decisions over recent years need to be thoroughly scrutinised.”
He said no stone should be left unturned.
“Anything less would be an injustice to those who died and will do nothing to prevent a second Grenfell.”