Grenfell Tower Survivor Tells James O'Brien About The Stay Put Policy

30 October 2019, 13:35 | Updated: 30 October 2019, 13:47

"If anyone is being criticised, it's not firefighters, it is the institutional establishment of the LFB" - Grenfell Tower survivor Tiago Alves tells James O'Brien about the stay put order and how he and his family survived.

If Tiago had rung 999 he'd have been told to stay in his flat. By chance his dad was coming home late and saw the beginnings of the terrible fire so woke up Tiago and his sister and got them out.

The Alves family could escape because it was "extremely early on and it wasn't at a point where the corridors were filled with smoke, it wasn't at a point where the stairwell was filled with smoke."

Tiago said the firefighters hadn't even arrived by the time they'd got outside of the 24-storey building, although many people were already outside screaming for others to come out.

He said: "The firefighters didn't change the stay put policy until much, much later when it was obvious from the people outside watching that something should have changed."

James said: "And this is the point that is the hardest to contemplate and to process is what was apparently obvious was not being recognised or acted upon by the decision-making members of the LFB's management team."

Grenfell Tower Survivor Tells James O'Brien How He Ignored Stay Put Order
Grenfell Tower Survivor Tells James O'Brien How He Ignored Stay Put Order. Picture: PA

Tiago said: "I think it's completely accurate to say that if anyone is being criticised, it's not firefighters, it is the institutional establishment of the LFB."

He continued that it was was lions led by donkeys and sometimes firefighters disregarded direct orders from their commanding officers and went in to the burning building to save lives.

"To me it's about juxtaposing the individual firefighter who risked his life that night with the commanding officer who was inadequately trained by the LFB - and even the commanding officers didn't necessarily follow their own policies on what to do.

"They weren't prepared for an evacuation of a high-rise building and the lessons of Lakanal House, a fire in 2009, were not learned. When Sir Martin Moore-Bick says that should've been etched into the institution of the LFB."

Tiago said he was unable to have a conversation about Grenfell without insisting that there was an institutional inadequacy.

Tiago then moved on to talk about the abuse received by Behailu Kebede, in whose flat the fire started. He's had to be removed from the community "because of fear someone will do something to him", despite the fact he is suffering just as much as everyone else.

"I've not lost faith in humanity," said Tiago, talking of generous donations of time and money the community has received and also the reporters that are giving him the platform to keep fighting for justice.

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