The boss of the London Fire Brigade has spoken with anger about the Grenfell Tower disaster, saying it was an act of “institutional violence” for which his force bears some responsibility. Andy Roe, who was LFB incident commander on the night when 72 people died during the West London fire, five years ago, told the London Assembly it was “very difficult” to hear and talk of Grenfell “without seeing the images in my head”.
In a fire and resilience committee hearing at City Hall, the LFB chief said: “I understand it as the destruction in a single moment of what I love about London. My experience of housing estates – playing sports in them, seeing friends in them, family. They’re places of such life, community, diversity, refuge for those who have come to our shores. They are places of decency and the civil society we aspire to be. They represent so many of the good things about Great Britain, our social housing estates.
“To see what was an act of institutional violence against it that night was truly shocking. No resident of a modern tower block in London should have to suffer what those people did. It pointed to the failure on the part of every institution that should have contributed to keeping those people safe – including in some part, my own.”
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(Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)
Commissioner Roe made a “promise” to the Grenfell community to “improve, and drive change with a rigour.” The first phase of the Grenfell Inquiry made around 30 recommendations to the brigade, nearly all of which have now been implemented according to City Hall.
The experienced fire boss added: “The only way we can offer some redress, some sense of justice, I think, to that community, is to do the right thing. To accept the failings we identify…address them with energy, and in doing so fulfil the role London expects us to do – to be that safety net.”
Londoners marked five years since the Grenfell disaster on June 14, with services in Westminster and at the Grenfell site itself and a silent walk to pay tribute to the victims – and campaign for justice.
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