Relatives of people who died in the Grenfell disaster say London fire chiefs should be sacked and face prosecution following a damning report.
The report hit out at the London Fire Brigade (LFB) for its emergency response to the blaze, particularly over its “stay put” strategy.
The policy meant residents were told to stay in their flats by firefighters and 999 operators for nearly two hours after the blaze began just before 1am.
The report, which praised the bravery of individual firefighters, concluded fewer people would have died if residents had been evacuated while it was still possible – within an hour of the fire starting.
The LFB breached national guidelines by failing to adequately prepare for the west London fire in June 2017 which killed 72 people.
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said the LFB’s preparations for an incident such as Grenfell were “gravely inadequate”, and the absence of a plan to evacuate the tower was a “major omission”.
Nazanin Aghlani, who lost two family members, said some firefighters displayed a “serious lack of common sense” and failed to see “what was so vivid in front of them”, calling for them to be prosecuted.
Last month, the LFB confirmed it has been interviewed under caution by the Metropolitan Police over the Grenfell fire.
Ms Aghlani said: “I think it’s quite evident that the whole LFB … is in the hands of people that are incapable of their jobs. They should be discharged of it. They’re responsible for a lot of lives and they don’t care much.
“They should be prosecuted. I’m not saying individual firemen, they do a hard job… but the seniors at the top get good money to do a very serious job.”
Her father Shah Aghlani, whose mother Sakina Afrasehabi and aunt Fatima Afrasehabi died, said he thinks “everyone who has been in charge of the LFB should examine their role” and act to bring about the “change that’s so badly needed”.
Natasha Elcock, chair of Grenfell United, a group of survivors and bereaved families, told Sky News she was “happy” with the findings of phase one and the report was “strong and fair”.
She said it was correct that the leadership of the LFB came in for criticism, as she claimed the institution “believes they can’t do nothing wrong”.
Ms Elcock said: “The report has been quite damning of the leadership of the LFB and quite rightly so,” as she questioned whether the head of the brigade, Dany Cotton, should still be in her job.
She said: “There were issues on the night with the fire brigade, definitely not those on the ground – I was rescued by them so I am eternally grateful that those firefighters risked their life. But it’s definitely around the leadership. The higher up the chain.
“It’s around the training and it’s around this institution that believes that they can’t do nothing wrong and it’s about time that changes.”
The report accuses the brigade’s commissioner, Ms Cotton, of “remarkable insensitivity” after she said she would not have done anything differently on the night.
Ms Cotton told the inquiry that preparing for Grenfell would have been akin to preparing for landing a spaceship on the Shard.
But chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said her evidence “only serves to demonstrate that the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire”.
And Ms Elcock said “it was disgusting” to hear first-hand those comments in the inquiry room by Ms Cotton “when so many people lost their lives”.
“For me, we need to question whether she should still be in that job.”
Reacting to the publication of the report, Ms Cotton said: “We welcome the chairman’s recognition of the courage, commitment and bravery of firefighters on the night.
“But we are disappointed at some of the criticism of individual staff members who were placed in completely unprecedented circumstances and faced the most unimaginable conditions while trying to save the lives of others.”
The fire started as a result of an “electrical fault in a large fridge-freezer” in a fourth-floor flat but the resident of flat 16 was not to blame, the inquiry found.
The principal reason the blaze caused such severe loss of life was the combustible aluminium composite material cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a “source of fuel”, Sir Martin said.
Phase two of the inquiry will examine the circumstances and causes of the disaster.
Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have welcomed the first report into the disaster, saying it is “strong and fair” and is right to be critical of the London Fire Brigade. The damning report praised the bravery of individual firefighters but hit out at the LFB, particularly over its “stay put” strategy.