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Home>Fire>Fire and Rescue >FBU warns Government of “Grenfell-style risk” over “weak” high-rise evacuation policy

FBU warns Government of “Grenfell-style risk” over “weak” high-rise evacuation policy

18 March 2024

THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) – the Trade Union representing the majority of firefighters – has slammed new Government guidance on building evacuation, suggesting that failings have left residents vulnerable to further Grenfell-style tragedies.

Back in October 2019, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommended that the Government should develop guidelines for the evacuation of high-rise buildings. The document was published last month (ie more than four years later).

Now, in a letter to Home Secretary James Cleverly, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack has asserted that it’s a “disgrace” it has taken so long and describes the guidance as containing “little of real substance”

The new guidance has been based on live tests of an evacuation conducted by the London Fire Brigade and the National Fire Chiefs Council, but these tests didn’t take place on anything like the scale of Grenfell Tower. They also didn’t make any use of smoke.

The detailed letter from Wrack describes the guidance as a “tick-box exercise” which “adds almost nothing to improve evacuation policy for high-rise buildings”.

Too little, too late

Commenting on the contents of his communication to the Home Secretary, Matt Wrack explained: “This evacuation guidance is too little, too late. Nearly seven years on since the Grenfell Tower fire, very little has changed on the regulations covering this critical area of safety.”

Wrack continued: “The Home Office has left residents in high-rise flats vulnerable to a repeat of the Grenfell tragedy. Ministers have engaged in what looks like a tick-box exercise on evacuation guidelines for people’s homes.

The Grenfell Tower fire was a tragedy created by politicians and big business. For decades, the profits of developers were prioritised over human life. Cutting corners on regulation, funding and firefighters’ Health and Safety will not keep people safe.”

In conclusion, Wrack stated: “It may only be a matter of time before we face another tragedy. That’s unless there’s a dramatic policy shift. Ministers must wake up and listen to the concerned voices of firefighters and residents.”