London Fire Brigade’s ‘Incident Commander’ Michael Dowden has received huge support on social media after receiving a brutal grilling during the Grenfell inquiry yesterday, in what many feared might turn into an attempt to pin the blame for the terrible death-toll on Dowden and the LFB.
The #IAmMichaelDowden hashtag, reflecting the truth that anyone faced with such a scale of disaster would be overwhelmed, trended hugely and was even covered by the BBC News channel this morning.
But the BBC and other mainstream media have skipped over a hugely significant point in Dowden’s testimony:
Dowden had classified the fire as a ‘ten-pump’ incident – needing ten fire engines to fight it, even at that early stage – yet he had only six, forty percent down on what he needed. The BBC showed it, but skated past its significance.
On the day of the fire last year, the SKWAWKBOX showed that the Tories had closed no fewer than three fire stations just in the immediate vicinity of Grenfell Tower – and had . reduced firefighter numbers by hundreds.
So dire was the situation that the firefighters’ FBU union’s submission to the inquiry described the LFB as lacking the resilience needed to handle major incidents – and the picture around England is just as grim, with 11,000 firefighter posts cut since the Tories came to power in 2010.
Yet when Boris Johnson was challenged, as London Mayor, about the inevitable consequences of his cuts on fire cover and the safety of Londoners, his astonishing response was, “Get stuffed“:
The video of that exchange was this blog’s most-read post of 2017. It should be no fewer now, as the full horror of those consequences – in lives lost and the trauma to relatives and to emergency services – are relived through the public inquiry.
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