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February 26, 2021

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London Fire Brigade must do more to fully address failings from Grenfell, says report

A report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found that the London Fire Brigade still has more work to do to fully address its failings from the Grenfell Tower fire.

London Fire BrigadeIn August 2020, the Home Secretary commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to review how the London Fire Brigade was progressing with its plan to implement the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report.

The terms of reference included commenting on the extent to which:

  • The governance arrangements put in place by the commissioner of the brigade were effective at ensuring progress against the action plan for delivering the recommendations;
  • The brigade had made progress with each of the in-scope recommendations in the action plan.

The London Fire Brigade still has more work to do to fully address its failings from the Grenfell Tower fire, the report finds.

HMICFRS found that the London Fire Brigade has made good progress, but three and a half years since the fire, there is still a significant amount of work to do, it says.

HMICFRS says it was impressed by the London Fire Brigade’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which it said had affected the brigade’s ability to implement some of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations.

This report found the brigade is inspecting more high-rise residential buildings more often, with the brigade on target to review the safety of all such buildings in London by the end of the year. It also found that the brigade’s new leadership was committed to taking action, and that there was a sustained effort to understand the lessons from the fire.

However, the inspection by HMICFRS revealed that the London Fire Brigade has only completed four of the 29 recommendations it reviewed, with seven on track and 18 delayed – including a delay to transition from “stay put” to “get out” advice. The brigade expects to complete a further 17 recommendations by March 2021.

The inspectorate said the London Fire Brigade needs to better coordinate its plans to act on the inquiry’s recommendations, so both the brigade and the public are reassured that if an incident as catastrophic as Grenfell were to happen again, the response would be much better.

The inspectorate said that arrangements for practical staff training exercises on high-rise buildings were not yet in place.

HMICFRS has identified several areas for improvement for the London Fire Brigade. These include:

  • Better management of risks and action plans to enable faster implementation of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations;
  • Establishing effective assurance processes so the brigade’s leaders can be confident that operational practice is improving, and that its response to a similar fire would be vastly improved;
  • Providing practical training exercises at high-rise buildings for incident commanders to use new working practices, such as updated evacuation and rescue policies.

Other recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry that have not yet been implemented include amending policies to clearly distinguish between callers who are seeking advice and callers who are trapped and need rescuing, and providing a dedicated communication link between the senior officer in the control room and the incident commander at the site of the fire.

Read the full report on the London Fire Brigade by HMICFRS, here.

This article was originally published on IFSEC Global.

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