Fire manager urged Grenfell residents to escape, inquiry told
Daniel Egan’s written statement described how he willed senior commanders to order an evacuation as flats were ‘being engulfed in flames’.
A senior firefighter has said he urged Grenfell Tower residents to ignore official advice and escape as the fire intensified, telling an inquiry: “I was doing what I felt was right.”
Daniel Egan, a station manager in regulatory fire safety, arrived shortly before 2am on June 14 last year and co-ordinated 999 call information.
He told the inquiry into the disaster on Tuesday that his “initial thoughts were that we needed to get people out of that building”, but, hours on, found the lack of progress “very frustrating”.
Residents were advised by the fire brigade to stay in their flats until 2.47am – a decision which is feared to have been fatal.
I could tell just looking at the building that everybody’s lives were in danger – residents, firefighters, everybody – it was a case of they just needed to get out Daniel Egan
Mr Egan, who has 26 years’ service, attempted to pass information about the location of trapped occupants to rescue crews, but heard nothing back.
His written statement described how he willed senior commanders to order an evacuation as flats were “being engulfed in flames”.
He told the hearing at Holborn Bars: “I believed we needed to just evacuate the building. We weren’t getting any information back in regards to information we have been putting through.
“They were obviously under the cosh, the guys that were in there, I could tell just looking at the building that everybody’s lives were in danger – residents, firefighters, everybody – it was a case of they just needed to get out.”
Mr Egan’s evidence was punctuated by displays of emotion, forcing him to pause and compose himself as he remembered how “quiet, eerie” it was inside the west London block.
It was very frustrating; we weren’t seeing the people coming down from the tower. I felt I was failing but I knew there was nothing else I could do Daniel Egan
He began overruling stay-put advice when talking to onlookers who had loved ones in the tower, the hearing was told.
He said: “My advice to them was if they are on the phone to the people (inside Grenfell Tower) is to get out of the building.
“I know that it was against what they should have been doing or what they were being told to do, but in that situation I told them to get out.
“I was doing what I felt was right.”
Bodies, firefighting hoses and rescue teams were blocking the stairwell, Grenfell Tower’s only escape route, he said.
“I couldn’t speak to somebody or give advice to stay put when looking at the tower as it went on and on, you could see it was jumping between (floors).”
In his written statement, he said the stay-put advice had clearly failed, but “people can be frightened to step outside policy”.
He described telling group manager Tom Goodall, the fire survival lead, that he thought the strategy should be ditched.
He said the same to another group manager, Richard Welch – then incident commander – and was told: “We are doing it.”
Mr Egan continued: “By that point I knew that we weren’t going to put the fire out – we needed to put more effort into getting people out, not putting water on the flames.
“My view was we should commit crews to every floor – we needed to flood the building with firefighters. I passed my thoughts up the chain of command.
“It was very frustrating; we weren’t seeing the people coming down from the tower. I felt I was failing but I knew there was nothing else I could do.
“I knew I couldn’t do anything else but I wanted to do more.”
In a sign of the chaotic scenes the brigade had to contend with, Mr Egan said he discovered at around 4.30am that information he had passed on hours before about trapped residents had not been acted on.
He wrote: “It was a horrible feeling.”
The officer will continue giving evidence on Wednesday morning.