FBU says ‘nothing much’ done on high rise evacuation training

FBU says ‘nothing much’ done on high rise evacuation training

THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) has claimed that ‘nothing much’ has been done to improve tower block evacuation training for firefighters since Grenfell in 2017.

Yahoo reported on the FBU’s views on tower block evacuation, with the union claiming that the UK’s firefighters ‘still don’t know how to evacuate tower blocks two years after the Grenfell disaster’, with general secretary Matt Wrack criticising the ‘lack of policy change’ since the fire in June 2017. He commented that individual fire authorities ‘had been left alone’ to explore how to improve high rise evacuation training, with only Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service taking action.

Mr Wrack added that ‘nothing much’ had been done to improve training, and that there ‘remains no national body’ to either assess and implement lessons learned from Grenfell, while the first phase report from the inquiry into that fire having been used to ‘justify a lack of action’. During the fire, the majority of residents were told by operators to remain in flats, with a full evacuation ‘only ordered’ after two hours.

Mr Wrack criticised the stay put policy and said lives ‘are being put at risk’, because that strategy remains the ‘default stance’ for firefighters attending fires. He commented: ‘It just seems to be a process of kicking the can down the road, an excuse for Government to do nothing - and nothing significant has happened in the past two and a half years. We were promised change, I haven’t seen any change.

‘With stay-put, why would you sit back and wait for three years before doing something? Is the inquiry able to say what the answer to stay-put is, or is it going to say “someone needs to do something about stay-put”? At which stage you ask, “why couldn’t you have done that within six months of the fire?”.’

With many high rises designed so that fires could be contained by compartmentation ‘negating the need for a full evacuation’, design flaws exposed since have shown that ‘advising people to remain in their flats could potentially prove fatal. Mr Wrack admitting he was ‘sceptical’ that an evacuation policy would work better than stay put, but said ‘something needs to be done’ to investigate this.