The need for physical distancing during the COVID-19 crisis has led to the suspension of many activities, including the phase 2 hearings of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry (GTI). Dave Green, FBU National Officer, gives an update on the FBU’s work following the Inquiry’s suspension on 16 March.
Like other workplaces, the GTI is having to consider ways to continue hearings remotely. This will be unchartered territory for law courts and many issues around how to maintain fairness and transparency will need to be addressed.
This week the GTI wrote to the FBU as core participants confirming that a number of options were being looked at for resuming the hearings. In conjunction with our legal team we will be looking at these carefully and responding formally.
We continue to stand in solidarity with the victims of the fire and we hope that a workable solution can be found as soon as possible so the work of the Inquiry can progress.
Despite the interruption of the oral hearings, we remain actively involved in scrutinising the written evidence provided to the inquiry which is still being released to core participants.
We are continuing to hold regular discussions with our legal representatives and other fire safety experts to examine the evidence and explore its implications. We are also continuing to analyse developments in building and fire safety regulation and guidance since Grenfell to understand its impact on the sector and on members, and to ensure that standards are improved.
The fire has acted as a catalyst for reforms in building and fire safety that we have been calling for over decades. Despite the snail pace of change, the government has been forced to act.
A new Fire Safety Bill is going through parliament and consultations on combustible cladding, sprinklers and the effectiveness of current building safety guidance have been issued (Approved Document B). We are actively involved in analysing new proposals and responding to consultations, engaging with parliament to express the views and experiences of firefighters.
Our views remain the same. Combustible cladding has no place on residential buildings. Fire safety needs to be at the heart of the design, construction and maintenance of buildings that people live in.
The fire service needs investment: too few firefighters and fire safety officers cannot keep the public safe. With the climate crisis continuing to exert unprecedented pressure on our service, and with the new responsibilities bestowed on us by COVID-19, our union is more important than ever.
We will continue to post updates on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and related work as soon as there are any developments.