10 Days Remaining

Friday 16th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

THE Fire Brigades Union slammed former London mayor Boris Johnson yesterday, pointing out that his slashing of counselling services available to firefighters will affect those left traumatised by the Grenfell Tower fire.

The union hit out after London fire commissioner Dany Cotton warned that the workers who tackled the blaze at the west London tower block could face suffer lasting psychological damage.

London Fire Brigade said more than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines had attended the scene after the flames spread rapidly through the 24-storey block in west London.

But the number of counsellors trained to help firefighters process the traumatic scenes they witness on the job in the London Fire Brigade was cut from 14 to just two by Mr Johnson, who also axed 13 fire engines.

When challenged on fire cuts in the London Assembly in 2013, the then mayor responded by telling Labour’s Andrew Dismore to “get stuffed.”

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack told the Star: “The absolutely devastating scenes that firefighters witnessed at Grenfell will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“They are heroic men and women who just get on with the job and don’t complain, but at the end of the day, they’re human and will be affected by what they see.

“The priority today is to make sure that everything possible is done to take care of their mental well-being after such a horrific disaster.

“We need more counsellors to look after them, not less.”

Ms Cotton said she had spoken to a number of firefighters who were deeply distressed “not least because they knew there were people still in there and they were battling through the heat to get there.

“What happened yesterday truly traumatised a lot of people,” she added.

The London fire chief explained that firefighters feared for their lives as they entered the building, which was “alight from top to bottom.”

One worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It was absolutely horrific at Grenfell, and it’s still very very raw.

“I have seen some really horrible things that I’ve never experienced seeing before and hope I will never see again.

“It will stay with me all my life. We were offered a session with a counsellor which I took up, and it did help, but nothing will get those images out of my mind.”