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Brandon Lewis MP Appears Before Grenfell Inquiry

India Rose Marriott

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis MP, appeared before the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on Wednesday 30th March to discuss his role and responsibility within the fire service in the years preceding the Grenfell Tower fire. Impact’s India discusses these developments. 

The trade union representing firefighters has highlighted the role of Brandon Lewis in damaging the fire and rescue service in the years preceding Grenfell, due to him being the minister with responsibility for fire between 2012 and 2014, and again from 2016 to 2017.  

[He] took an axe to the fire and rescue service

In 2013, Lewis commissioned an efficiency review of the fire and rescue service in England by former chief fire and rescue advisor Ken Knight, which resulted in the recommendation of saving money through a variety of suggestions such as substituting retained firefighters for wholetime crews.  

Furthermore, Lewis was also responsible for failing to resolve serious fire safety issues. Between 2011 and 2017, fire safety officers were cut by 25%, and the number of fire safety audits falling by around a third between 2012/2013 and 2016/17. 

20% of firefighting posts were cut across England

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: 

“I watched for years as Brandon Lewis took an axe to the fire and rescue service. Our union warned of the destruction he was risking, yet we were ignored time and time again. He purposefully and persistently dismantled the fire and rescue service, through cuts and a privatisation agenda.” 

“In just five years between 2012 and 2017, 20% of firefighting posts were cut across England – that’s one in five firefighters. In London, 10 fire stations closed in 2014. Those cuts have had disastrous consequences across the country, and directly relate to the worst loss of life in a fire since the war.” 

Further reading: 

Statistics used on England-wide firefighter post cuts 

Statistics on fire and rescue cuts in London [1]  

Statistics on fire and rescue cuts in London [2]  

Statistics on fire safety officer numbers 

Statistics on fire safety audits 

India Rose Marriott

Featured image courtesy of the blowup via Unsplash. Image licence found here. No changes were made to this image.

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