Early in the morning, on the 14th of June, our nation was struck with the devastating news that a tower block in West London had been engulfed in flames. Over 200 firefighters, and 40 fire engines, attended the scene. Harrowing images dominated the news for over a week, and public frustration was brought to a breaking point.
It was clear that residents had previously expressed concerns surrounding fire safety within the tower block, and yet no action had been taken. The unavoidable disaster prompted calls for this horrendous event not to be politicised, often by those deemed partly responsible. It’s clear that all previous governments failed. Profit was put before safety, and subsequently money outweighed the cost of human life. It’s devastating to say the least.
I’m surprised how quickly attempts were made to subdue the public, and ensure that frustration died down. Of course it’s necessary to avoid social disorder, but to avoid accountability is cowardly. It was unsurprising that Nicholas Paget-Brown was forced to resign following this tragedy. The cries of local residents, following the swift election of Elizabeth Campbell, went largely unheard. They cried ‘shame on you’, called Councillors ‘murderers’, and demanded that Ms. Campbell ‘resign’. So, almost six months on and where are we? Nobody has been prosecuted, the majority of residents remain unhoused, and little action has been taken to address poor fire safety standards in public buildings.
Our government has failed to learn from past mistakes. Henceforth, they are implicit in any future disasters. If there’s one thing we can take away from this horrendous event, it’s that we can now appreciate the value of fire safety measures and the role of fire fighters. Never forget. Refusing to retrofit sprinkler systems in high rise buildings, cutting budgets for emergency services, and failing to act upon past promises doesn’t help alleviate the problem. Taking immediate action will. It’s time for the government to step-up, work with other parties, and tackle endemic issues within our society. Because let’s be clear, this disaster wouldn’t have occurred in central London.