GRENFELL WAS NOT FIT TO LIVE IN – Most senior fireman on scene tells inquest
THE spread of fire inside Grenfell Tower was so horrendous that no-one should EVER have been allowed to live there, a fire chief has said.
Andrew O’Loughlin told the inquiry into the disaster that the failure of the building could not have been foreseen.
The deputy assistant commissioner was defending the decision to tell residents to remain in their homes.
People in flats not yet reached by smoke and fire should have been protected by the building, he said.
Mr O’Loughlin was the most senior London Fire Brigade officer on the scene and was in charge of the terrible incident when the advice to “stay put” was given to residents.
After 2.47am, residents were encouraged to escape if they could, rather than await rescue.
But Mr O’Loughlin said that firefighters had reason to expect the “stay put” advice would keep residents safe.
He said: “You wouldn’t expect fire to spread around the building like it did on the outside. And for it to fail so catastrophically – we’d never expected or anticipated that.
“We would not expect the internal protection to fail so badly as well. So my expectation was people who were safe in their flats should stay safe in their flats.”
One firefighter told the inquiry earlier that the advice for unaffected residents to stay put was redundant by about 1.50am.
But Mr O’Loughlin rejected suggestions that the advice should have changed earlier, arguing that the spread of the fire was something that “none of us could ever have expected”.
“The building was so horrendous several hours later that I think no-one should have lived in the building,” he said.
The inquiry heard that it took 25 minutes before Mr O’Loughlin was informed of the change in advice.
He said he was confused by the change and did not think it would necessarily make much difference to residents already trapped inside their flats.
“The change to ‘stay put’ is, if people feel they can escape then they should try to, but I don’t think it’s trying to tell people they should go into a smoke-filled environment”, he said.
The blaze on June 14 2017 caused the deaths of 72 residents.
IN CHARGE: Andrew O’Loughlin defended ‘stay put’ advice to residents