After being somewhat skeptical we’d have an inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire my hopes were raised slightly when I heard news reports of people discussing how the fire spread. Alas, I’m now back to where I started:
Firefighters have strongly denied claims by a lawyer for some of the Grenfell Tower survivors that the way they responded to the blaze was affected by racism.
At the public inquiry into the disaster, counsel for the Fire Officers Association (FOA), the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and London fire brigade rubbished the allegation from Imran Khan that there was “unconscious or some conscious racism” in the way firefighters responded to the blaze in the tower, which was home to a diverse community of people from all over the world as well as the UK.
On Tuesday, Khan, representing 27 bereaved survivors and residents, said: “The use of … stereotypes, including in one instance referring to someone as ‘foreign’, in the statement of the firefighters on the face of it suggests unconscious or some conscious racism.
I am doubtful that, when the adults were in charge, race-hustling lawyers were permitted to burden such inquiries with empty charges of “unconscious racism” on the part of rescuers. But those times are long gone, in more ways than one:
The inquiry also heard that firefighters were not trained in dealing with the way the blaze spread and there was no procedure for an emergency evacuation
The FBU said the evidence so far suggested firefighters had received no training in tackling a cladding fire, no training to spot breaches of compartmentation or to effect an emergency evacuation of a high-rise residential building.
I bet they’d collectively clocked hundreds of hours of diversity training though.
(Incidentally, Imran Khan is the lawyer who represented Stephen Lawrence’s family during the MacPherson enquiry.)