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Grenfell watch manager used hose for hours to keep flames from trapped resident

Stuart Beale said he could see fire continuing to engulf ‘more and more flats’ where people had been waving for help.

A watch manager used a hose to keep flames from a trapped resident for hours after realising that water pressure was too low to fight the Grenfell Tower fire more widely.

Stuart Beale, a watch manager at Soho fire station, intended to use an aerial ladder platform (ALP) to get water on the building after it became apparent it could not get close enough to rescue people from their windows.

However, he soon made the “soul-destroying” discovery that water pressure was too low to be able to effectively curb the flames’ rapid spread.

Mr Beale said he could see fire continuing to engulf “more and more flats” where people had been waving for help, and spotted a man who had been at his window “for a long time”.

In a written statement to the public inquiry, he said: “I had seen a family to his right before their flat became fully involved in fire and I was determined to do everything we could to stop the fire reaching this male.

“I directed to set up a ground monitor which is bigger than a hand held branch but smaller than on ALP.

“Once again we were hindered by the water pressure.”

We focused on the area above where the male we had seen was and this had a good effect in preventing the fire from spreading Stuart Beale, watch manager

As an alternative measure, they strapped a smaller hose to the ALP, meaning the water pressure would be higher and it could be put closer to the fire without being manned.

He added: “We focused on the area above where the male we had seen was and this had a good effect in preventing the fire from spreading.”

Mr Beale, who has 22 years’ experience, told Andrew Kinnier QC they kept this up for about five hours.

He said the resident was part-way up the block on the east side, between the 11th and 13th floors.

Mr Beale also sent a runner to give his location to the bridgehead, where rescue crews were being committed into the building.

He was told a crew in breathing apparatus had been sent to help that resident and later heard the man had been rescued.

Some 72 people died as a result of the fire on June 14 last year.

The inquiry, at Holborn Bars, central London, is hearing a last day of firefighter evidence before it pauses for a month.

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