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Channel 4 Grenfell documentary slammed for blaming firefighters for deaths

A TV programme shifting the blame of the Grenfell Tower blaze onto firefighters rather than government failures was lambasted by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) today.

The Channel 4 Dispatches programme titled Grenfell: Did the Fire Brigade Fail? airs tonight.

It accuses the London Fire Brigade (LFB) of relying on claims about the blaze in June 2017 being “unprecedented” to avoid being challenged over their “failure” to learn from previous fires.

Up to 55 of the 72 people who died in the blaze in June 2017 were advised by LFB to stay put inside the burning building, the programme revealed.

Ahead of the programme’s broadcast, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said that firefighters had risked their lives that night to save others and were placed “in an utterly impossible situation” because of faults in the building.

Mr Wrack said that the building was already a potential death-trap even before any 999 calls were made, as it was wrapped in flammable cladding which caused the fire to spread.

“We have longstanding criticisms of fire and rescue policy in the UK, and have in the past made many criticisms of individual fire and rescue services, including the LFB,” he said.

“The FBU has made urgent recommendations for a review of the stay-put policy, but we are clear that this is a national matter which government should initiate.

“The government has been too slow to respond, both in terms of unsafe building materials and reviewing national fire and rescue policy.”

Firefighter and FBU member Paul Embery tweeted: “No-one should be immune from scrutiny over Grenfell. But how depressing that of all the people Dispatches could have targeted — politicians, privateers, contractors etc — they have gone for the brave men and women who risked their own lives to save others.”

A spokesperson for campaign group Grenfell United said firefighters were let down, just as the bereaved were, because fire bosses failed to learn lessons from previous fires and to step up to make critical decisions on the night.

They called for LFB commissioner Dany Cotton to acknowledge any failures from the night so that survivors and families can rest knowing the tragedy will not be repeated.

An LFB spokeswoman said they were “listening, learning and already making changes” to prevent another incident.

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