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Thoughts on Today's Fire

I decided not to post this on the day of the incident but wait till more was known. There have been too many occasions where comments made in the immediate aftermath of an incident are ultimately unhelpful. A week has passed now and I feel that my comments are still accurate to how I feel and so have decided to backdate this post and publish it as it was written last Wednesday.


I find myself bothered with the tower block fire that broke out in the early hours of this morning in London. It has taken me a while but I think I have now worked out why this incident is bothering me more than the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London Bridge.

Before I go further, I want to stress, the terrorist incidents did bother me, but the fire has really 'got under my skin' as it were. I think it comes down to two factors, the first is the duration of the incident and the second is the advice given.

The terrorist incidents happened almost instantly. The bomb was obviously an instantaneous thing and even the killing spree was ended within 8 minutes by the police. The full response (making the area safe & treating the injured) took much longer but the immediate threat was over quickly. Compare this with the hours that people will have been spending in their flats just waiting, unable to do much if anything.

The second point is that the advice given to people was to wait in their flats. I have seen similar signs in other high rise flats. While we will have to wait till all the investigations are over, it would appear at first glance that many people will have died as a result of following this advice. Perhaps those that survived will be the ones that ignored this and either tried to escape through the stairs or by jumping.

This happened with the Piper Alpha accident. The advice was to wait in the accommodation block for helicopter rescue. That rescue never came because the helicopters could not get close. The only people who survived were the ones that ignored the advice and jumped into the sea. Many of them also died but everyone who did as they were told and waited, died when the accommodation block sank into the sea.

The idea that people who do the as they are instructed end up doing worse as a result is probably the thing I am finding the most upsetting.

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