Grenfell fire control room operator feared people were trapped on every floor

A control room operator feared there would be people trapped on every floor of Grenfell Tower as she passed on information to crews on the ground after being “inundated” with 999 calls.

Some of the first exchanges between the control room taking emergency calls from residents trapped by smoke and fire personnel on the ground were shown to the public inquiry into the blaze on Tuesday.

Watch manager at Dowgate Fire Station, Daniel Meyrick, was part of the first command unit mobilised to Grenfell Tower early in the morning of June 14 last year.

Upon arrival, Mr Meyrick heard a control room officer struggling to get through to those on the ground with urgent information about residents’ whereabouts due to “heavy radio traffic”.

He intercepted the message, and began relaying information about the emergency calls from residents, also known as fire survival guidance calls, to crews.

The transcript of a conversation between an operator and Mr Meyrick soon after he arrived on scene, shortly after 1.30am, was shown to the inquiry.

In it, the operator says they were being “inundated with calls” from residents unable to leave the tower due to smoke-logged lobbies and stairs.

She adds: “Oh my god there are so many” and “it’s going to be every floor” as she attempts to relay information.

The woman said: “We’ve got one on the 18th floor. Hold on. 18th floor, oh my god there’s so many.

“Top floor, adults and eight, adults and eight children, smoke coming in. I don’t know what number that is.”

She adds: “And there’s one on the 18th floor but we don’t… it’s going to be every floor but we haven’t got a number for that either.”

Mr Meyrick said he recalled speaking to control but could not remember the exact words.

Asked by Richard Millett QC about his initial impression of the scale of the calls coming in, Mr Meyrick said: “It was huge, and I could tell it was going to get a lot bigger because I could see the fire, I could see what was going on, and bearing in mind the time of day, most people were going to be in bed.

“I realised this was going to be something else.”

Mr Meyrick noted down information such as floor numbers, flat numbers and numbers of people and conditions on pieces of paper, the inquiry heard.

He then passed information over to his colleague, watch manager Mark Kentfield, via radio, highlighting the priority calls.

He said: “I was getting (information about) a handful of calls, I would pass that information on, control would be almost straight back to me with information about another handful of calls.”

He added that the lines of communication were “one-way” and that he did not have any way of knowing what action had been taken in relation to the information he passed on.

In his written statement, Mr Meyrick added: “In my opinion all personnel that were in attendance did everything within their power to fight the fire and save life.”

- Press Association

Most Read in World