FBU slams Government rejection of key Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations on PEEPs
14 June 2022
THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) has written to the Government to demand the latter rethinks its decision to reject a key Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry recommendation on the evacuation of disabled residents who reside in high-rise buildings.
The Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry recommended that “the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law to prepare Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs)” for all disabled residents.
However, last month the Government rejected this recommendation and revealed downgraded plans, which have been roundly criticised by Grenfell campaigners and disability rights campaigners alike.
The Government had promised to implement the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry Phase One recommendations (of which this is one) “in full”.
In a letter to Lord Greenhalgh (Minister of State for Building Safety, Fire and Communities) dated Monday 6 June, Matt Wrack (general secretary of the FBU) stated: “The FBU was disappointed with the Westminster Government’s decision to downgrade work towards ensuring residents with disabilities are provided with PEEPs. The Government’s statement claims that implementation would involve significant issues with practicality, proportionality and safety. The FBU argues that resident safety is paramount, so there is a greater safety issue in declining to implement PEEPs.”
Wrack continued: “As for proportionality, the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry has found the introduction of PEEPs to be a proportionate strategy. The FBU agrees [with that assertion]. Some reasons given for the refusal seem poorly evidenced, for example stating that if a PEEP advised the purchase of an evacuation chair, there would be an “impact on the good relations between disabled residents and non-disabled residents if disproportionate costs were passed on to the latter. Building owners should carry the costs.”
According to Wrack, the Government’s decision is “a negative, backward step”. For its part, the FBU stands with disability campaigners, the Grenfell campaign groups and the Local Government Association in asking the Government to reconsider [its decision].”
15 out of 37 disabled Grenfell Tower residents lost their lives in the tragic fire that occurred five years ago this month. The FBU represents the majority of the hundreds of firefighters and fire Control Room staff who were involved in the Grenfell response.