Grenfell inquiry to resume by ‘end of 2019’

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Image caption Government guidance says services should develop evacuation plans

The second phase of the Grenfell Tower inquiry is unlikely to start until the end of 2019, the chairman has said.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick said there were some 200,000 documents still to disclose which would not be done before next autumn, more than two years after the fire which killed 72 people.

The first phase, which concludes this week, centred on the night of the fire – the second will examine wider issues.

Earlier, the inquiry heard the fire service had no tower evacuation plans.

The Fire Brigades Union said Britain’s fire services had no strategy for evacuating a high-rise building at the time of the Grenfell disaster.

This was despite government guidelines which recommended contingency plans in case services needed to abandon the standard “stay put” advice.

On the night of the fire at the tower block in North Kensington, west London, a policy of “stay put” was kept in place for around two hours after the blaze broke out.

Both firefighters on the ground and in control rooms told residents they should remain in their flats.

Government guidance published in 2014 says fire services should develop evacuation plans for when the standard “stay put” advice becomes “untenable”.

Sir Martin, the retired appeal court judge who is chairing the inquiry, will consider whether evacuating the building earlier could have saved lives.

Martin Seaward, the FBU’s barrister, told the inquiry that developing practical drills for an evacuation plan would have been “a major undertaking achievable only at the national level”.

It would be “too daunting” even for a large fire service like London’s, he said.

Firefighters have previously given evidence that evacuations in such circumstances were not something they were trained to do.

“The incident commander was placed in an impossible position without an evacuation procedure in place,” Mr Seaward said.

He added that he hoped the inquiry would next consider why evacuation plans hadn’t been developed.

Before the Grenfell fire there had been a series of well-known smaller fires which spread rapidly, Mr Seaward told the inquiry. But he said procedures and training were not drawn up as a result.

On Monday, a lawyer for the victims told the inquiry that London Fire Brigade’s leaders had let down residents and firefighters.

The first phase of the inquiry’s hearings – which ended on Wednesday – concentrated solely on the events of the night of 14 June 2017.

The second phase will examine the refurbishment of the tower and concerns expressed by residents about fire safety.

Sir Martin said that “if all goes well” the second half of the inquiry would take place closer to the tower in west London, after survivors and the bereaved struggled to get to the current central London venue.

He said work had begun to digest 200,000 documents relating to the refurbishment, including the installation of cladding and insulation, which would “tell much of the story” of what went wrong.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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