The official inquiry into London’s high-rise Grenfell Tower fire is now underway. The blaze occurred on June 14, 2017 and killed 72 people. Most such official inquiries end-up being a whitewash, and so far, this one has displayed some worrying signs regarding this prospect.
At root for the inquiry are two general sets of considerations: (1) the immediate emergency response to the conflagration and what transpired subsequently; and (2) the causes and conditions, primarily political and bureaucratic, which made a disaster on this scale possible. Given existing circumstances, was the fire foreseeable? Could it have been avoided, and could more have been done to put preventive measures in place?
The available evidence indicates that none of the firefighters was really equipped to reach the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, many of whom fled to the top of the building as the fire rose upwards from its source on the 4th-floor.
London Fire Brigade’s aerial-platform vehicles can only reach heights of about 32m, while Grenfell Tower was 68m high. In Dubai, where skyscrapers such as the Burj Khalifa are more than 160-storeys tall, the fire brigade there has aerial-platform vehicles that can reach 80m.
Lacking aerial platforms of the requisite height, firefighters had to ascend the stairs of the Tower by foot, with their firefighting equipment, and the breathing apparatuses for most of them were almost empty when, after several…