Commenting on the testimony given to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry by Watch Manager Mike Dowden, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said:
“Watch Manager Mike Dowden has shown himself to be a very honest man. He has answered all questions to the best of his ability. He is a professional, brave and honourable person. We are proud to have him as a member of the Fire Brigades Union. There clearly are important and difficult questions to ask but they should not be directed at those who do not have the power or authority to have altered policies, operational procedures or training. The line of questioning toward Mike Dowden has been, at times, absurd.
“Mike Dowden is not in any way a ‘Fire Chief’ as has been reported in the media in recent days. In fire service structures, he is a junior officer. He is not a middle manager and he is not a strategic or principal manager. On the night of the fire he was originally in charge of two fire engines at one fire station.
“Let’s remember that Mike Dowden did not apply flammable cladding to Grenfell Tower. Nor did he make the other alterations which destroyed the fire safety within the building. Nor did he start the fire. He was simply on duty when the worst fire since World War Two broke out. Like all firefighters that night, he was placed in an impossible situation. He did what they all did; he tried his utmost to save lives.
“The Grenfell Tower Inquiry is approaching issues back to front. It is self-evident that the disaster at Grenfell Tower was a result of the building having been altered. While there have been expert reports provided on these issues, the inquiry is looking at the events of the night rather than the decisions which led to it. Those who made the decisions have yet to been called to give evidence. If the ‘Stay put’ approach failed, it failed as soon as flammable cladding was installed on the building. The alterations to Grenfell Tower happened before the fire and before any firefighting took place. The order of the inquiry is chronologically and causally wrong.”