Monday, 23 July 2018

Firefighters: The Undisputed Heroes of Grenfell

Kevin Maguire writes:

Firefighters were the undisputed heroes of the Grenfell Tower inferno so subtle sniping and smearing to shift blame for the catastrophe is grotesque.

Heroes like North Kensington crew manager Christopher Secrett, who prepared to die when his oxygen almost ran out as he tried to save a 12-year old girl on the 20th floor. 

He positioned himself in a corner of the smoke-clogged stairs so his body wouldn’t be in the way if he perished. 

TUC head Frances O’Grady blasts critics as “unfit to lace the boots” of workers who risked their lives to save others in the London tower block. 

She isn’t alone in scenting attempts to exploit evidence at the public inquiry to nudge culpability for 72 deaths on to the bravest of the brave.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged his total support for crews as Tory MPs whisper criticism and the Tory press gleefully finds fault.

Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack, himself a firefighter, blasts a “back-to-front” inquiry. 

By starting the Grenfell probe with the 999 call, chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick relegated in the public consciousness fatal mistakes by Tory-led Kensington and Chelsea council, including cheaper flammable cladding.

“The building was wrapped in petrol,” Wrack told me. “Where is the focus on deregulation and a criminal complacency with public safety? There are some trying to blame firefighters and it’s worrying there appears to be an effort to rewrite events.” 

Wrack has urged every firefighter to be completely honest but fears the local authority and contractors will use legal excuses to dodge difficult questions.

He criticised “absurd” questions to watch manager Michael Dowden, who broke down in tears. He didn’t fit the flammable cladding or undermine the block’s fire safety, said Wrack.

Examining the “stay put” policy instead of ordering immediate evacuation is legitimate but O’Grady and Wrack are right: Zeroes are self-interested cowards blaming real heroes.

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