Equipment failings hampered London tower block fire rescue – BBC

The burnt out remains of the Grenfell apartment tower are seen in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The firefighters who battled an inferno at a London apartment block that killed at least 80 people last month were hindered by equipment failings including the lack of a high ladder, the BBC reported on Saturday.

More than 200 firefighters and 40 engines were sent to the 24-storey Grenfell Tower on June 14, rescuing 65 people from the devastated building.

But the BBC said there were radio problems and a shortage of “extended duration” breathing apparatus, which allow firefighters to work for longer. A high ladder, which might have given the fire crews a better chance of stopping the blaze from engulfing the building, did not arrive for more than 30 minutes.

Crews also cited problems with water pressure, the BBC said, although water firm Thames Water told the broadcaster that “any suggestion there was low pressure or that Thames Water did not supply enough water to fire services during this appalling tragedy is categorically false”.

London Fire Brigade, which could not immediately be reached to comment, told the BBC it had changed its procedures since the fire and its response would be reviewed.

Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a public inquiry into the blaze, the worst in the British capital since World War Two, although survivors and locals have expressed unhappiness with the government’s choice of chairman for the probe, saying they were sceptical he would uncover wider issues.

British police have also launched a major investigation into the fire and are considering a range of possible criminal offences including manslaughter.

Meanwhile, Law firm Leigh Day confirmed on Saturday that it had suspended two members of staff after the Times newspaper reported that they had been touting for business by putting up posters offering help to survivors.

“As soon as the posters were brought to our attention, a full internal investigation was commenced under formal protocols,” Leigh Day said in a statement. “The two individuals concerned have been suspended whilst this investigation takes place.”

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Helen Popper)