I don’t normally comment on fatal fires in London but I feel I need to do so in this instance because of some poorly informed speculation about this incident.
My thoughts are with the deceased’s family and friends at what must be a very sad time. The circumstances surrounding any fatality like this are rarely simple and those who have jumped upon the tragedy in an attempt to make a political point, without knowing the relevant facts, are very wrong to do so.
Like all fatal fires, the London Fire Brigade is carrying out an investigation into this and their initial work shows that this follows an unfortunate pattern. The victim was an elderly person without a working smoke alarm, which is why the brigade prioritises fire prevention work to people in similar circumstances.
The claims that response times were delayed by the closure of Woolwhich fire station are simply not borne out by the facts. On the evening of the fire Plumstead fire station was experiencing problems with the brigade’s mobilising system, which caused a 2-3 minute delay in the deployment of fire appliances. This is why appliances were initially deployed from Eltham and East Greenwich, once Plumstead received the mobilisation message they attended in under five minutes. Had the mobilisation system worked as it normally does the crew from Plumstead would have arrived comfortably within our target response time.
This incident is deeply sad and I think that everyone involved has a duty to base their comments on the facts rather than jump to speculation.