Firefighter tells inquiry dousing Grenfell Tower fire was like ‘using garden hose’
Raymond Keane said there were issues with the water supply as crews tried to control the inferno.
A firefighter has described being plagued by problems with poor water supply while attempting to control the Grenfell Tower fire.
Raymond Keane said a turntable ladder he was supplying with water had “nil effect at all” on curbing the flames, comparing another appliance to having the strength of a garden hose.
Once they had set it up it was just like they was using a garden hose Raymond Keane, firefighter
On the night of the Grenfell Tower fire the Paddington firefighter was tasked with setting up a water supply to a 33-metre turntable ladder via an engine, known as a pump.
In a written statement to the public inquiry, he described a “really bad water supply” when he examined the nearest hydrant, so opted for another.
He later saw water “trickling out” from an aerial ladder platform (ALP) using the same hydrant, adding: “Once they had set it up it was just like they was using a garden hose.”
In a written statement to the public inquiry, Mr Keane also recalled how flaming debris raining down on the turntable ladder meant it had to be taken out of use.
He said: “It was best to move it out the way. I don’t know if it was having much effect anyway.
“They were trying to put water onto the fire but it was just pissing in the wind, hardly making any difference at all.
“I have never seen it like that before.
“We use the TL (turntable ladder) quite a lot on normal fires and it does a brilliant job but this time it just didn’t touch it at all.
“The fire was getting worse, nothing was stopping it.
“Each floor was being engulfed in flames: at first the fire would be on the outside but then it would break through the window and tear through whole flats one by one.
“You could see it completely destroying the whole building.”
After the turntable ladder was taken out of action Mr Keane was told to use the pump to supply a ground monitor, a powerful jet which can do a similar job.
The water was reaching the 10th floor, but he increased the pressure to attempt to help a man thought to be on the 12th floor.
However, the supply at this level only lasted about 40 seconds before he would have to reduce pressure and wait for the levels to increase.
He added: “When I look at photos of the building now I can see a triangle on the left hand corner where we were spraying the water.
“From the 12th floor down there is a patch which is unburnt.
“The water we were putting on must have stopped the fire spreading so the ground monitor was doing a good job in the areas it could reach.”
Mr Keane was speaking at the first phase of the public inquiry into the disaster.
Some 72 people died as a result of the fire on June 14 last year.
The firefighter of nine years’ experience also experienced problems with water pressure at a call-out a few weeks before the Grenfell Tower fire.
This was to a fire on the 27th floor at Trellick Tower, a high-rise in north Kensington.
He said: “In total it took about 45 minutes to fix the problem but once we had the water pressure we were able to put the fire out within minutes.”