Union exposes ‘grossly unjust’ postcode lottery of tower block fire responses


New research has exposed the postcode lottery surrounding the ability of fire crews to respond promptly and professionally to life-threatening tower block fires.

The findings by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) come to light the day after a silent vigil was held for the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster and one Yorkshire council revealed a seven-storey city centre building had failed the Government tests introduced in the wake of the deadly blaze.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union.

According to the FBU, the number of engines automatically sent to a fire or other incidents varies greatly between locations due to differing levels of resource.

Its general secretary, Matt Wrack, said that the situation was “utterly unacceptable” and the “grossly unjust postcode lottery of resources” needed urgent attention from government.

The ‘pre-determined attendance’ for tower blocks in Yorkshire ranges from three engines and no aerial platform in Humberside to five engines and an platform in West Yorkshire.

Crew levels can also vary between four or five firefighters per engine, while only 33 of all 125 aerial ladder or platform vehicles in England are available round the clock due to staffing.

We find it staggering that nothing has been done to address this grossly unjust postcode lottery of resources.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union

In a letter to the Prime Minister today, Mr Wrack said: “In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower, we are aware that there are greatly differing standards and approaches adopted by different fire and rescue services across the country.

“We had hoped that one immediate response from central government would be to implement or establish an urgent review to ensure that the appropriate resources are available to firefighters attending such incidents in the future. This appears not to have been done, which causes us concern and alarm.”

Yesterday Bradford City Council said Landmark House had failed a Government fire safety test on its cladding.

The seven storey building in Broadway contains 91 flats as well as shops, commercial units and vacant office space.

Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “We have been advised that there is no need to immediately evacuate the premises.”

She said surveillance would be increased and a meeting for residents was planned.