Edinburgh vigil for Grenfell anniversary as union reveals firefighter cuts

A silent vigil to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell fire tragedy will be held in Edinburgh today.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

The blaze which engulfed the 24-storey London tower block on June 14, 2017 claimed 72 lives. The fire started with a malfunctioning fridge-freezer on the fourth floor but spread rapidly up the building's exterior due to the cladding and external insulation.

An inquiry into the tragedy is due to conclude next month before the police start their own investigation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The vigil, at the Mound, has been organised by the Edinburgh TUC and will take place from 4:30pm until 5:30pm. After opening contributions from union leaders, those taking part will stand in silence, holding placards with photos of the 72 people who died.

A spokesman for the organisers said: “Seventy-two innocent men, women and children died in a fire that could have been avoided had the building management committee not put profit before life. After five long years the survivors and the families of those that lost their lives still have no justice.”

The Fire Brigades Union today said 221 firefighter posts had been cut across the UK since Grenfell, including 42 in Scotland. The union has previously highlighted a reduction of over 11,000 firefighter roles in the UK, including more than 1,000 in Scotland – between 2010 and 2017.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Despite the worst UK domestic fire in living memory the government is still failing to change direction, and take fire safety and the fire service seriously. It is an insult to the people who lost their lives and it is an insult to the Grenfell community.

The fire at Grenfell Tower in west London claimed 72 lives in 2017.  Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire.The fire at Grenfell Tower in west London claimed 72 lives in 2017.  Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire.
The fire at Grenfell Tower in west London claimed 72 lives in 2017. Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Unfortunately none of this is a surprise. Central government let Grenfell be turned into a fire trap and has done nothing to fix the building safety crisis that has come to light since. They are gambling with lives.”

And a report was released today by Professor Luke Bisby, a professor of fire and structures at Edinburgh University and an expert witness to the inquiry, detailing flaws with the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the government’s former safety research and testing body that was privatised in 1997. It was responsible for testing many of the cladding, insulation and other building materials used in the Grenfell refurbishment.

Professor Bisby said that “what emerges from this overview of the development of England's building regulatory environment, and the major cladding fires that have occurred during the same period, is a picture of increasing freedom for industry”. He also highlights a “profound lack of competence of actors” including the BRE and “powerful commercial and ideological objectives” to increase flexibility for industry.

Mark Rowe of the FBU said Professor Bisby’s report was “massively significant”. He said: “It details multiple failings on the BRE’s part in the run-up to Grenfell. Their status as a private company meant that they were dependent on fee income from clients, such as Grenfell manufacturers. This made them too willing to please clients and too reluctant to challenge them or the information they provided.

“We are clear: the BRE was not, and is not, fit for purpose, because it is privately-owned. It is vital that the BRE is taken back into public ownership and run for the public good, not profit.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.