The Fire Service and the Fascist State

There was piece on Radio 4 last evening about the residents of Flat 142 in Grenfell Tower.

It is made clear that the Fire Service made errors, and rather like the military who have long known that the battle plan goes out of the window once you engage with the enemy so, similarly, the Fire Service found the same thing.

What is infinitely more important though, is that the Fire Service is not engaged in war, it is supposed to be an efficient civilian response to a disastrous event. And so it was planned. Flats in tower blocks are designed to survive an hour of conflagration in the next door flat without problem for their neighbours and that is a more than adequate time to extinguish the fire.

Unless, of course, there is inflammable insulation attached to the outside.

This, as we now know, was the disastrous key to the Grenfell fire. Yet the fire service response is based entirely on the original building standards.

Correction: it was based on that. But one Boris Johnson, as Mayor of London, actually cut the fire service initial response. All high rise buildings had an initial response of either a turntable ladder or a hydraulic platform in addition to fire engines, as standard in any high rise fire. Johnson abolished this. He also reduced crewing on each appliance, so thus on arrival at any fire the ability to assess is immediately in conflict with the need for action.

I suggest that videos of the response show that high rise vehicles would have been able to extinguish the fire, which, after all, started on only the fourth floor, before it travelled further

Whilst the Radio 4 programme has some legitimate concerns on the London Fire Service response, it is – as they say in economics – micro. Macro considerations are ignored.

As ever Macro is of the essence.

Martin More-Bick, the enquiry judge has, I hope unconsciously, investigated the wrong thing first.

I do hope that he’s not implicated, because blaming the people rather than glorious and infallible governance is exactly what fascism likes to do.