Grenfell tower fire. Photo: Wikimedia Commons Grenfell tower fire. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Grenfell inquiry is trying to shift the responsibility for the Grenfell tower fire onto the brave firefighters that risked their lives, reports Lucy Nichols

The inquiry report into the Grenfell fire has condemned the London Fire Brigade for ‘systemic failures’ in its response to the tragedy that took the lives of 72 people in June 2017. According to Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who leads the inquiry, fewer people would have died had the LFB been better prepared for a ‘fire such as Grenfell’.

Due to be published in full tomorrow, the report scapegoats the fire service and blames the ‘institutional failures’ of the LFB on the loss of so many lives – this includes the failure to recognise the dangers of combustible cladding, the lack of an adequate evacuation plan, and the firefighters on the scene failing to evacuate the tower.

This shameless report demonises the firefighters who risked their own lives trying to save those trapped in the tower, and pits the working-class against itself. In scapegoating the LFB we are letting those really responsible for the deaths of 72 people – including 18 children – off the hook.

Moore-Bick fails to mention the severe cuts in funding to the fire and rescue services that have left the vital emergency service completely overstretched; at the end of 2018, there were 11,000 fewer firefighters in England than there were in 2010. He also skirts over the fact that Arconic knew about the dangers of the tower’s cladding long before the fire, but that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council still elected to use cheaper, unsafe cladding. The Grenfell tragedy can only be blamed on austerity and corporate greed. It was a completely avoidable tragedy that would never have happened had it not been for years of deregulation and cuts.

Despite this, the report cruelly concludes that ‘the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire’. The opposite is true – with a loss of £155 million this year alone, the fire services are still being cut. Buildings across the country are still covered in dangerous and combustible cladding, risking thousands of lives. Over 28 months on, it is the British establishment who are really at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire. With this report it continues to deny its responsibility for London’s biggest single loss of life since World War II, and carries on disregarding the lives of the working classes.