Firefighter union leader tells MPs that “governments” at fault on fire safety


Fire Brigades Union General Secretary Matt Wrack has told a cross-party committee of MPs that “governments for decades” have been responsible for reducing emphasis on fire safety, in a session on post-Grenfell building rule changes yesterday. 

He said there had been a period “where the endless mantra… from… government ministers, of both parties… had been that fire is a declining risk and therefore we can afford to reduce our emphasis on fire safety. That was very clearly a theme we heard for more than a decade”. 

He concluded that “there has been a deep, deep complacency about fire safety that has emerged… and Grenfell hopefully is a major turning point on that”. 

He went on to lay out the impact that weak fire safety standards can have, saying that “We have had incidents where our own members have died and it has emerged that the fire risk assessor for the building concerned had no qualifications, and so I think that’s quite shocking and that’s a sign of a deregulated sector”. 

During the session Wrack highlighted falls in fire safety inspector numbers as a key part of the “financial pressure on fire and rescue services”. He said that “I do not see how you can cut in the London Fire Brigade, for example, 25% of your fire safety inspectors and not think that that will have implications for public safety. Something like 20% to 25% of fire safety inspecting officers have gone over the past 11 years, and something like 40% over the past 20 years”. 


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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, International Fire Buyer

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