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Debates
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

15. Fire safety in buildings (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  Syed Kamall, on behalf of the ECR Group . – Mr President, the importance of fire safety in buildings was all too tragically highlighted by the horrific events at Grenfell Tower in my home city of London. Following the grief, the anger and, sadly, the shameful attempts by some British opposition politicians to exploit the tragedy to score cheap political points, our priority should now be to continue to help the survivors, to help rebuild their lives.

My hope is that the full public inquiry that the British Prime Minister has rightly ordered will reveal: why did it happen, what can we learn, how do we prevent a repeat of this terrible tragedy? When MEPs met firefighters from across the EU last week, they told us that this tragedy could easily have occurred in any of their cities. A British firefighter told me that in the UK, an apartment in a high-rise building with the door shut should be able to contain a fire for 40 minutes to allow time for evacuation and to put out the fire. But at Grenfell, the initial reports suggest that the door to a flat may have been open and that the fire escaped through the window and spread by the flammable cladding in a matter of minutes. These are, of course, just initial reports and have yet to be verified.

A Belgian firefighter explained that plastics containing petroleum release oils and toxic smoke, making their job more dangerous and suffocating victims. They shared concerns over single staircases in some high-rise buildings, which means that those fleeing fires may block emergency services entering the building. They told me that they are now assessing which buildings in their cities contain similar dangerous cladding. So many issues were exposed by this tragedy that I hope that the Commission’s exchange or proposed exchange will address. But whichever city or country you are from, we need to make sure that at best, such a tragedy does not occur again and at worst, emergency services are able to put out the fires and evacuate residents safely.

We owe this to all our citizens and the emergency services that keep us safe. And if you will allow me, as a Londoner born and bred, I am proud when I hear stories of individuals and communities from across London and the UK who came together to support those who had suffered the greatest of losses. Let me end by expressing my deepest sympathies for the victims and their loved ones.

 
Last updated: 23 November 2017Legal notice