Bonefishblues wrote:On the night, members of the LFB were executing a Plan that was clearly failing. Of course the threshold was high to abandon the Plan and try to evacuate - but if seeing a Plan failing in front of ones eyes, and people dying in large numbers as a result isn't such a threshold, then I am nonplussed to understand what that threshold might be?
I disagree regarding the Commissioner's comments. There is rightful concern that her comments, having had legal advice, might indicate a more general issue within LFB (one readily remembers the issue of Institutional Racism being surfaced within the Met Police following another tragedy). It is of no significance that she will retire next year.
In theory it should not have been possible for the fire to occur the way it did: cladding systems on high rise buildings are not supposed to burn like they did at Grenfell. All the firefighters knew this (there is a video taken by one of the crews on his phone in an appliance travelling towards the fire, and a firefighter can be heard saying "That's not possible. How can that be happening?" or words to that effect). The firefighters simply did not know how the fire was going to continue to behave. For all they know, the quantity of combustible material in the cladding would be used up imminently or the cladding fixings would fail and the cladding fall away to the ground and the situation would completely change, i.e. the exterior of the building would no longer be on fire. Not knowing how the fire will behave and progress made it extremely difficult to make a decision about abandoning the stay put policy (unless you have the benefit of hindsight).
Every senior fire officer in the LFB and every chief fire officer around the UK will be very aware that in the event of another major high rise fire with fatalities, their actions and failings will be scrutinised for having failed to learn from Grenfell, so I don't doubt that a lot of work has been done and will be done to consider how they need to change their approaches.
As far as I am concerned, those who want to blame individuals are themselves part of the same systemic failures that created the potential for Grenfell. Fixing the problems will require a lot of hard work, great attention to detail, good decision making at all levels (not least by politicians), and a lot of money and training. Indulging in a blame game and looking forward to some individuals being jailed for manslaughter will not make the necessary improvements. They are ultimately just a distraction, and if anything are likely to divert attention and resources from where they are really needed to fix the problems.
I agree with most of what you've written. I too saw the footage taken by the Firefighter travelling to scene. It was clear that it was outside his experience or comprehension.
Sure, nobody would have been certain how long the cladding would continue to behave as it did, but aiui it was abundantly clear early on that the fundamental premise of the stay put policy was breached, in that the fire was readily travelling into the flats from outside. It was an eventuality that hadn't been planned for, but the stay put plan was finished at that point.
It's possible that the Commissioner was simply lax in her words to the Enquiry, but their significance can't be in doubt. If ever there was a time for someone in a (the most) senior leadership position to give a lead, that was it. That opportunity was missed, and quite spectacularly so IMHO. If those preparations have been made up and down the country, then we should be shouting about them (and wondering why this isn't a national issue, too, I'd suggest) by way of both reassuring the public, and also at least letting those involved in Grenfell that lessons have been learned.
I have the deepest respect for, and sympathy with (ref JLR's comments about the trauma they too will have suffered, and will continue to suffer) fire fighters being confronted with that situation, but just like the AAIB, we have to avoid personalising this wherever possible, which is, I think what you're saying. That's a different matter though, to examining the preparation for, and actions on the night of the fire with a critical eye.