Sadiq Khan orders urgent review of firefighters' equipment after Grenfell Tower

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Sadiq Khan has ordered an urgent review of equipment for firefighters after claims crews were hampered by shortages while tackling the Grenfell Tower blaze.

The Mayor pledged firefighters will get “exactly” the equipment they need after firefighters told the BBC they experienced problems with equipment and water pressure, and a high ladder did not appear on the scene until half an hour after the first fire crews were sent.

Mr Khan said he had ordered an urgent review by London Fire Brigade (LFB) commissioner Dany Cotton in the wake of the claims made to BBC Newsnight.

The LFB said it has increased the number of fire units sent to high-rise fires due to cladding concerns following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, while in future an aerial appliance will be dispatched automatically to blazes in tower blocks.

Responding to the report, Mr Khan told the broadcaster: “The key thing is not to detract from the great work of our fire service and the emergency services.

“I want to pay tribute to Newsnight for their report. 

“There’s going to be a public inquiry and a police investigation. I’m not willing to wait for that though, so I’ve asked Dany Cotton, the commissioner of the London Fire service, to carry out an urgent review.

“The review will tell me what she needs, what the fire service needs, and my promise to her is to make sure the London Fire service, the London Fire Brigade, get exactly what they need.

“I’ve asked them to look into what more equipment they need and I’ve given them the promise to make sure, once they let me know what they need, we’ll let them have what they need.”

When asked about the delay to an aerial appliance, Mr Khan said the fire service procedure was to operate within the tower and it was not an issue that had been raised with him before. 

He said the Grenfell fire was “unprecedented” but added: “Clearly, there are lessons that can be learned”.

More than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines rescued 65 people from the June 14 blaze, in which at least 80 people died. 

An LFB spokeswoman said the investigation into the fire would examine the brigade’s response, including “all of the issues Newsnight have raised”.

A spokeswoman for the LFB said: “On June 22, an interim change to pre-determined attendance for high-rise buildings was introduced. This was in direct response to the Government’s action to address concerns of cladding on buildings.

“With immediate effect, any pre-determined response to a high-rise building fire was increased from four fire engines to five fire engines and one aerial appliance.”

Fires in high-rise buildings were “nearly always dealt with internally, not usually needing an aerial appliance”, the LFB added.

The brigade confirmed that an additional aerial ladder was sent from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to assist in the effort, but did not say what time its own first aerial ladder arrived.

It said there was much detail it could not comment on due to the ongoing investigation.

The “fundamental issue” of high-rise safety remained that buildings were maintained to stop fires spreading, it added. 

Thames Water said claims the water pressure was too low or that they did not supply enough water were “categorically false”.

Latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) reveal that 202 buildings in 55 local authority areas failed combustibility tests rolled out by the Government after the fire.

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