You will have followed the debate following the terrible and tragic fire in Camberwell last Friday.
Firefighters know better than anyone the horrific impact of such tragedies on the friends and families of those involved and I know that all members will join me in sending our condolences to those who have lost loved ones.
Having spoken to local officials and to members who attended the incident, I am also aware that those involved acted with the utmost professionalism and dedication. They did everything possible to save as many lives as they could and forty people were rescued. Regrettably, six members of the public lost their lives.
Unfortunately, the debate around the incident has been marred by a number of press articles which have included ill-informed speculation, inaccurate information and unfair criticism of the crews involved.
We fully support steps to ensure the public accountability of the Fire and Rescue Service and we shall also be supporting local FBU officials in reviewing the events of this incident. We have called for a full inquiry into this incident and into all the circumstances surrounding it. This must cover all aspects of the operational response as well as all fire safety issues, matters relating to building regulations and the renovation/alteration to the building.
FBU members will be well aware of some of the inaccuracies in the press coverage. These have been based on an ignorance of Fire Service equipment such as ladders and a clear lack of understanding of Fire Service operations. Whilst such a lack of understanding of technical Fire Service issues is not surprising it is regrettable that certain sections of the media have chosen to highlight criticism of Firefighters without checking whether the issues raised, would have actually made any difference in the circumstances. From our inquiries so far it seems clear that this is not the case.
It has often been from such major tragedies that changes within our Service or within the wider fire safety regime have been developed. We shall therefore take every step to ensure that lessons are genuinely learned and that the views and experiences of Firefighters are central to this process.