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Firefighters in new tower blocks safety warning

Three years on from Grenfell disaster, government criticised for ‘endless promises, excuses, and platitudes’

19 June, 2020 — By Tom Foot

On the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower blaze that killed 72 people, the Fire Brigades Union has slammed the government for presiding over a system ‘that values profit over people’. Photo: Grenfell United

FIREFIGHTERS say tower block residents’ lives are still at risk despite buildings safety promises after the Grenfell disaster three years ago.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said – on the third anniversary of the fire that killed 72 people in north Kensington – the government had made “endless promises, excuses, and platitudes” but had been exposed for presiding over a system “that values profit over people”.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Half a million people are trapped in unsafe homes and across the country; another Grenfell could happen tomorrow, potentially where fire services are not as well resourced.

“Every day that the government fails to tackle the building safety crisis is another day that residents’ lives are being put at risk.

“While the world has faced up to the coronavirus pandemic, the inquiry into the Grenfell atrocity has been put on hold, giving the companies and politicians responsible more time still to avoid scrutiny.

“It was decades of deregulation, privatisation, and austerity that allowed Grenfell to take place, with a politics that values profit over people. When the economy restarts, we must not fall prey to the failed arguments of the past that led to this horrendous loss of life.”

He added: “Firefighters do all that they can to protect human life and the loss of 72 people at Grenfell was deeply traumatic for them as well as for all those others directly affected by the fire.

“Today, a community and their firefighters grieve. But we will not accept another year of inaction.”

On the anniversary, the Grenfell United group organised an online memorial streaming message of support and a two-minute silence for those who died.

This year’s memorial was moved online due to the pandemic.

In a video played at the event, musician Stormzy said: “To all the people of Grenfell, we’re still mourning with you, so to anyone watching this let’s use this time, let’s use today to stand in solidarity with them and say that we ain’t forgotten you. We love you, we’re here for you. When the government and powers that be have turned their back on you, we’re here. We’re here, we’ve got you, we’re not letting this go.”

In a statement, prime minister Boris Johnson had said stricter laws on fire safety had been introduced and that the government was working to implement “every recommendation made by the first phase of the public inquiry”, adding: “We are still dealing with the consequences of what happened and working to make sure it never happens again.”

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