FBU response to the Lakanal fire inquest

FBU Press release 28th March 2013 

Lessons Need to Be Learned from the Lakanal House Fire

The Fire Brigades Union is urging fire authorities and the government to learn the lessons of the Lakanal House fire, while warning that cuts to the fire service will undermine efforts to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Andy Dark, FBU assistant general secretary said: “I would like to express our condolences to the families and friends of those who died at the Lakanal House fire and assure them that firefighters and their union will scrutinise the coroner’s report, to ensure the service learns the lessons from this tragedy.”

Lakanal House underwent alterations over the years and fire protection standards were not maintained and improved. The fire shows the need for continuous improvement in fire protection systems of buildings.

The fire also shows the importance of introducing a high-quality risk assessment process for such buildings, coupled with rigorous and frequent inspection of high-rise buildings by the fire and rescue service.

The fire risks at Lakanal House had never been properly assessed.

Fire risk assessments

  • In a complex high-rise residential building, a person needs a good knowledge of fire protection systems and the behaviour of fire.
  • This level of knowledge cannot be obtained on a one day training course. London Fire Brigade should not have been selling one day training courses to people who were assessing fire risk in other high rise buildings in Southwark.

Andy Dark said:

“There was clear and unambiguous evidence presented to the inquest that the household fire safety leafleting campaign, which fire services up and down the country have introduced as a substitute for fire cover, was totally ineffective.

“The fire service across the UK has been decimated over the last ten years. Government funding cuts and the failure of chief officers and fire authorities to join with the FBU to defend our vital service means that we are stretched to the limit.

“Peckham fire station, the closest one to Lakanal House, is set to lose a fire engine if the mayor of London imposes his cuts. The Borough of Southwark is due to lose one third of its appliances and one quarter of its fire stations. Cuts like these will slow response times and will lead to more deaths and injuries at fires.

“The FBU has consistently protested against the government’s abandonment of standards and its lack of scrutiny of the fire and rescue service.”

 

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