Grenfell Tower Fire – Three Years On
The 14 June marks the third anniversary since 72 people died as a result the Grenfell Tower Fire. The fire devastated an entire community. The Fire Brigades Union has been clear from the start that we stand alongside the bereaved, survivors and residents as well as the wider North Kensington community in the campaign for justice.
The fire exposed the deadly impact of building deregulation which took place under successive governments. This agenda was driven by the demands and interests of corporations and developers; it prioritised the pursuit of profit over people. At Grenfell it resulted in a high-rise residential building being clad with highly combustible material. The repeated fire safety concerns of residents were ignored. Earlier warnings from the FBU about the dangers of flammable cladding systems were also ignored.
We continue to fully support our London members who attended the fire and performed with remarkable professionalism and courage in unimaginable circumstances. We have argued that the interests of FBU members do not in any way conflict with those of the community and we have sought to engage with the community from the start.
After the tragedy, the FBU was quick to outline the events and decisions that had led to the fire spreading in the manner it did. While the establishment has tried to drive a wedge between communities and their firefighters, the FBU has shone a light on the real culprits: the businesses and politicians who made or demanded the policy decisions. We have pointed to the rapid deregulation of building safety standards, the drive to cut costs and maximise profits as well as the long-term assault on public services, including our own.
Three years on from Grenfell, little has changed. Buildings clad with ACM largely remain so. And there is a large and unknown risk to those in homes built or clad with other combustible materials. There are a host of other high risk fire safety failings in residential buildings across the country.
Grenfell should have been the disaster that marked a turning point in making Britain’s homes safe. But it hasn’t.
- There are still over 500,000 people at risk in unsafe housing across the UK;
- Over 23,000 homes are still wrapped in highly flammable ACM cladding;
- Over 400 buildings still have a ‘waking watch’ due to serious fire safety issues and despite our serious concerns over the ‘waking watch’ system.
The inaction by Government is a national disgrace and it is sickening to think that due to Government inaction, another Grenfell could happen tomorrow.
The FBU has been at the forefront of exposing Government inaction and fighting for justice for our members and the wider community. The least that can be done for the memory of those that were lost on 14 June 2017, is for justice to be served to those responsible and for homes to be made safe.
In the next few days, in the build up to 14 June, the FBU will be participating in a number of events to mark the anniversary. Due to the current lockdown, we are unable to gather as we had planned but we are still determined to show our solidarity with the community and will do so in number of ways including a socially distanced wreath laying at the Tower, the release of a new short video we have commissioned and participation in a number of online initiatives.
The FBU will continue to campaign and demand justice for the bereaved, survivors and residents of Grenfell. We will continue our commitment to achieve real change in legislation and to hold those truly responsible for the fire to account. There must be justice.
I urge all members to participate in our #GrenfellNeverAgain campaign and the fight to ensure that such an incident can never happen again.