GREN­FELL WAS NOT FIT TO LIVE IN – Most se­nior fire­man on scene tells in­quest

Midweek Sport - - NEWS - By COLIN HURST news@sun­daysport.co.uk

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.”

Re­dun­dant

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

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