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Cotton supports Grenfell 'stay put' policy

01 October 2018

LONDON FIRE chief Dany Cotton has said that nothing could have prepared firefighters for the events that unfolded on the night of 14 June at Grenfell Tower.

She told the Grenfell inquiry, “When I turned up on the night, I was absolutely horrified and appalled by what I saw.”

Cotton had been in her post for six months and on the day of the event, while she was on the scene, she was appointed commissioner.

At the inquiry, she was questioned on the events of the night and whether there were failures in brigade training to tackle tower block fires.

She backed the “stay put” policy that was in place that night as there was no way of knowing that the building's fire safety measures would fail.

Her statement said, “Buildings are constructed so that any single compartment (which is what we call someone’s flat) should maintain 60 minutes of fire protection and this should not compromise the stairwell. So the fact that I could hear people saying ‘I can’t get out of my front door, there’s thick smoke’ was really concerning. I knew we had people trapped behind doors who couldn’t get out of the flats by themselves.”

The “Stay Put” policy was revoked almost two hours after it was put in place, and when Cotton was asked why this did not happen earlier, she told the inquiry that the single staircase evacuation route was “very narrow”.

She said: "People were trapped by smoke and it would've added to congestion on the stairwell. Bringing people out at that moment in time would have added to the casualties and delayed the response."