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The Kerslake Report


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I have never seen such a damning report relating to the conduct and performance of a UK Fire and Rescue Service. And I have to say, one cannot argue with Lord's Kerslake's views.

As appalling as it was, the Manchester attack was, it could not be described as unexpected. The FRS across the UK plan and prepare for such events. With Manchester's huge urban conurbation, its high profile - being virtually Britains second city (sorry Birmingham) - and the fact that the city has hosted terror in the past - one would think that the city would be as prepared as any other. But reading the reports today and other accounts prior to the publication of this report, seem to show an unprecedented failure.

Its fair to say that the actions (or inactions) of just a few individuals have tarnished a fine fire and rescue service, and all who work there. That is unfair, but is inevitably the outcome. Indeed, its not the UKFRS finest moment ever.

I just hope that GMFRS and the whole of the UK FRS can learn from these failings and absolutely nothing is brushed under the carpet. I am not sure if discipline cases are forthcoming or appropriate, but when you take the rank, you take the responsibility. If you mess up so spectacularly, you should be bought to book. I wonder if that will be the case?

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Messy agreed...It doesn't make enjoyable reading on any level for UK FRS.

As a NILO I  my own service I can totally understand the frustration that would have been experienced - expressed in some of the paragraphs.

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The whole founding principals of the original LFB ILO's has been completely forgotten from the report I just read. Thankfully I can't see that happening in LFB as multi agency Comms are instantly opened, we mobilise to an RVP (although there were three at Westminster, we still got it right). But crucially three ILO's are mobilised to the forward command point as well as the CBRN/Plato team then 6 pumps to the RVP, where (as in Westminster & London Bridge) the ILO on scene gives a sit-rep and immediate clarity around the incident, risk, ACTUAL RVP and makes a quick decision to bring LFB assets as far forward as possible in readiness for a quick deployment.

Confusion and mixed messages are inevitable, both Westminster, LB and the 'never was' Oxford street attack had several reports of other incidents. This is where the ILO earns his or her money and has to make the call to get the primary Rescue Service into a useable position at the scene. ILO's (called in on recall) are also deployed into the Our Comtrol, Police Control, CTPOR & the 'Commissioners Group' and the duty AC (who has devolved Authority of the Commissioner) HAS to attend the Multi Agency Gold, which is invariably at the Police Control room at Lambeth.

That was a shocking comedy of errors, I fee for them all, but (and I have already discussed with Officers in GMFRS, who said they'd have done it if they were on duty as well as comments from, my own Brigade) I'll still never understand why there was no "B*ll*x Guv'nor, we are going, we'll argue about it later" I was sat a few hundred miles away having become aware of it quite a while after it happned thinking "Where are they" and it was apparent to me with so many members of other emergency services there as well as members of the public, from what I was seeing on TV and social media, it wasnt the 'OK Corral' and IMO I'd have been 'managing leadership upwards' and off with my Pumps in a cloud of dust toward the scene.

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I really do hope there is complete transparency and regular communications with crews about the outcome of this report and it's recommendations.

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@Dyson, the report states it was the procedure(s) - not an individual's decision - that resulted in the delay.

The initial call was believed to be a MFTA. following a procedure, GMFRS control did not turn out a PDA, but passed the details to a NILO at home to make a decision. The NILO, based on the information s/he had at that time - and taking into account the agreed procedures - started a chain of events that ordered appliances from the local station (who had already been pre-warned and then stood down) to a station 2 miles away.

Then a whole host of senior officers, NILOs and specialist appliances were ordered to hold at this station. At the same time, another group of senior fire officers gathered at GMFRS HQ to become Fire Gold. No fire officer was despatched to Police Gold. The subsequent lack of information completely thwarted any decision making as the fire service were described as being 'out of the loop'. It could be argued that a fire officer at Police Gold would have been very useful, especially when taking into account 240 calls were received there (3 by GMFS) and numerous tactical and strategic decision were being made at Police Gold.

Meanwhile the military - seeming unconstrained by rigidly applied procedure, used good old common sense - They saw the news of the attack on the TV and immediately mobilised their military liaison officer to Police Gold. When the Police got around to requesting the military liaison - the office was already en route. (and was used to supply additional military medical supply to hard pressed hospitals).

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Thanks for the info messy. While they hide behind guidance and procedures we all know that someone on duty that night was in charge and was calling the shots. 

I would like to see that person held to account and be given a fair opportunity to defend themselves. 

The decisions made caused a failure on the night and have caused lasting harm to our profession. 

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I have not read the report, but to me  I would agree with Steve, I was gobsmacked that there weren't bods on the ground saying " bol~o~ks, we are going.!, sod the management , they can ask me about it after we have saved lives...!

I understand that there are management protocols for these things, and I can't even think about what horrors might have faced these crews, had they been in a position to go forward, but I for one would want to be able to say  " we did everything we could"

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It has to be said that post Westminster there were a few calls that may have gone Manchesters way. A certain un named Guvnor took a running call from members of the public to 'shots fired' at a next door railway terminus. Whilst liasing with Met firearms and awaiting MTFA as no other FB assets had arrived, he was repeatedly told by control to return to his station pending arrival of ILO. Said Guvnor ended up ringing the Officer of the Day, Explaining that he was standing alongside Met Silver behind approximately 20 armed Met officers, and would happily hand over the liason baton as soon as ILO or MTFA got there... Luckily said Guvnor knew the OoD very well, who was happy to explain to control that said guvnor knew exactly what he was doing, and to send informatives from Met until ILO arrived..who didn't get there from deep Sarf before Met Expo confirmed all clear...

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  • 3 years later...

For those who have been watching the Arena enquiry, its interesting to see that the Kerslake report has been brought into question about its accuracy. 

Very difficult to explain unless you have seen the footage and Sir John Saunders comments about it regularly. 

For those who are interested, the site is here

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