Video: Dowden testimony shows Johnson’s fire cuts worsened Grenfell. Johnson: ‘Get Stuffed’

dowden resource.png

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 sixforty 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.

The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.



  1. I watched the whole thing on TV throughout the night it happened.
    The shocking speed of the fire’s spread made it obvious that it was impossible to fight effectively with hoses from below and that the only chance for those inside was immediate evacuation.
    Protecting the stairwell with every available hose was the only hope of escape that I could see.

    The purpose of such inquiries is always to spread blame so widely that no one can be held liable, hence Mr. Dowden’s grilling. No training could have prepared him or any other officer for something so far removed from prior experience.

    The fact that an emergency plan to install stairwell sprinkler systems in all high rise buildings was not immediately called for by the Tories shows where the blame lies.

  2. It’s Tory national and local Neo-Liberal ideology which is the root cause of Grenfell whether driven nationally – deregulation, outsourcing, privatisation, cost cutting and a smaller state (
    local Tories and Johnson) and the Tory Coucil having £3.1m for Grenfell (which would have afforded fire resistant cladding) but cut to £1.7m with cheap cladding. So we now know the cost of a diverse working person’s life to the Tories – £20k! As far as I am concerned it is national and local Neo-Liberal Tories and their policies which are guilty.
    Justice 4 Grenfell!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: