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London Fire Brigade ire of public, Grenfell inquiry

The release of the first phase of the Grenfell Tower inquiry has produced a massive public outcry over the failure of the London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) response to the tragedy that killed 72 people in 2017.

Bereaved family members stood in silence for 72 seconds – one for each of those killed by the 14 June 2017 blaze – following Wednesday’s publication of the report, which noted that fewer people would have died in the fire if the LFB had taken certain actions earlier.

Those who died in the fire were told by firefighters for nearly two hours to stay put in the building as it was engulfed in flames, the report noted. The strategy to stay in their flats was rescinded at 02:47 BST.

“That decision could and should have been made between 01:30 and 01:50 and would be likely to have resulted in fewer fatalities,” inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, wrote in the report.

Moreover, firefighters lacked the training on how best to combat the fire, which quickly enveloped the cladding of the building.

“However brave the firefighters were, there was a serious lack of common sense. They didn’t see, especially at senior levels, what was so vivid in front of them,” said Nazanin Aghlani, the daughter of one of the victims. “We look at firefighters as heroes … but they are not heroes, they are professionals. It’s quite evident that the whole LFB … is in the hands of people that are incapable of their jobs. They should be prosecuted [for corporate manslaughter]. I’m not saying individual firemen, they do a hard job … but the seniors at the top get good money to do a very serious job.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said the Grenfell tragedy was avoidable, adding that all the survivors “deserve a new home and safety and security in this country”.

The report follows the first phase of the inquiry, with a second phase expected to focus on wider circumstances of the fire, including the design of the building.

Many people, however, said that the inquiry will fail to bring about real change.

“Quite apart from its remarkable insensitivity to the families of the deceased, and to those who escaped from their burning homes with their lives, the Commissioner’s evidence that she would not change anything about the response of the LFB on the night, even with the benefit of hindsight, only serves to demonstrate that the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire,” the report highlighted.

The cause of the fire was determined to be an electrical fault in one of the flats on the fourth floor. The report cleared the tenant of having any culpability in starting the fire.

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