Grenfell Tower fire: Surviving tower block blaze a 'postcode lottery', firefighters warn

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Lack of equipment at some fire stations makes chances of surviving a tower block fire a “postcode lottery”, firefighters have warned.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said the differences in equipment at stations across the country was “staggering” and called on Prime Minister Theresa May to review standards.

It comes after a BBC investigation unveiled revealed London Fire Brigade had failed to immediately send an “aerial” ladder to the Grenfell Tower inferno.

At least 80 people are believed to have been killed when a fire broke out at the high-rise on June 14, with the tower engulfed in flames within minutes.

Research from the FBU has now found that there are 125 aerial ladder/platform vehicles, which have long ladders or platforms to reach fires in high buildings, in England – but only 33 of them are available round-the-clock.

The union says the issue is because of a lack of fire crews.

Kent, Humberside and Nottinghamshire have just three fire engines and no aerial platforms – while Hampshire has a PDA of eight fire engines and an aerial vehicle.

The FBU said that the size of a fire crew can also vary between four or five firefighters per fire engine.

Grenfell Tower fire: A timeline of the tragedy

FBU general secretary and former firefighter Matt Wrack described these findings as “extremely concerning” in the light of the Grenfell Tower fire, and branded this situation as “utterly unacceptable”.

He said: “We find it staggering that nothing has been done to address this grossly unjust postcode lottery of resources, and the fact that governments in all parts of the UK appear not to have even considered it is a disgrace.

“They now need to urgently instruct fire services to improve their fire and rescue planning to ensure a full and professional response to such incidents all over the UK.

“Citizens everywhere need to feel safe and confident that those in authority are taking their safety seriously. Anything less is, frankly, obscene.”

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the FBU had hoped that an urgent review of greatly differing standards and approaches adopted by various fire and rescue services across the country would have been set up.

Mr Wrack, in a letter written to the Prime Minster today, said: “This appears not to have been done, which causes us concern and alarm.”


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