Grenfell: The tough questions must be asked and answered

The Grenfell Tower fire was an atrocity. The inquiry must not be a whitewash.

The 14 of June 2017 will forever be marked as a nightmare date of death and destruction.

The accounts of the Grenfell Tower victims are painful to read and listen to. Loved ones speaking to their families for the last time knowing that they could not escape the flames. The terror of people not knowing whether their friends and family made it out of the building in time.

The 21st Floor, a powerful film featured on BBC Newsnight, captured these absolutely heartbreaking stories. It makes difficult viewing, but I would urge you to watch it nevertheless. But how was this atrocity allowed to happen in one of the richest boroughs, in the capital of one of the richest countries in the world?

We appear to live in a country that is unable to keep people safe in their own homes. Now it is time for the tough questions.

The FBU demands a vigorous, thorough, robust public inquiry with the survivors, victims, local residents and firefighters all involved in order to hold to account the people who made the decisions which allowed this atrocity to occur. It is a major challenge for us all.


The FBU is the only UK-wide fire organisation which addresses every major fire service incident, including those where firefighters are killed.

For example, we are the only organisation that has participated in every inquest or fatal accident inquiry relating to the death of a firefighter.

We also have unique experience in addressing public inquiries on such matters, notably the King’s Cross inquiry.

These processes, as well as our wider engagement in fire policy, provide a unique insight into what has happened to the fire service and to safety regulation in the UK over the past three decades.

The background to the Grenfell Tower fire is complex and we will need to address it in a thorough, forensic and painstaking manner. That process is under way and I urge you to follow it closely.


Rodney Bickerstaffe, the former general secretary of the Unison trade union, has died at the age of 72.

He was a great champion for his members and trade unionists everywhere, and a very decent and well liked man.

He was also a personal friend and comrade. He will be sorely missed.

Share this post