‘WE will not rest until we get justice for her and for the many other lives lost as a result of this crime,’ says the family of 12-year-old Jessica Urbano Ramirez who tragically was one of those who perished in the Grenfell fire.
Her family have spoken of their anger at the loss of their ‘little angel’. Jessica Urbano Ramirez has now been formally identified as one of the many men, women and children who died in the blaze on 14 June. The police assert that the number who died is 80. However the local community insist that many more died in the fire than the police admit.
In a statement released by the Metropolitan Police, Jessica’s family said it had been ‘probably the hardest news any parents will ever have had to bear’ learning of her death. But as well as paying tribute to the ‘loving, kind-hearted and caring’ schoolgirl, the family called for justice for all of the victims.
‘Nothing will ever bring our little girl back, and we are angry that this should ever have happened to our little angel,’ they said. On Monday, the inquests of three victims were opened at Westminster Coroner”s Court. Forty-one inquests have now been started.
Eslah Elgwahry, 64, was found on the 23rd floor of the tower block and is believed to have lived on the 19th floor. Joseph Daniels, 69, was found on the 16th floor of the building. A third victim, a 35-year-old woman whose family asked for her not to be named, was discovered on the 23rd floor of the 24-storey building. The preliminary cause of death for all three victims was recorded as ‘consistent with the effects of fire’. All of the inquests have been adjourned while the public inquiry and criminal investigations are carried out.
A two-year-old boy has also been confirmed dead in the Grenfell Tower blaze weeks after his mum Zainab Deen, 22, also died in the devastating inferno. Jeremiah Deen’s heartbroken family said the toddler will ‘last a lifetime in our hearts’.
TalkRADIO host and ex-Independent MP George Galloway said: ‘If I am your landlord and if I not only don’t do what I ought to do in terms of sprinklers and fire escapes, but if I deliberately do what they deliberately did, which was to clad the tower in highly, highly inflammable material which would go up in flames at the drop of a hat, and emit cyanide fumes, and that then happened… I’d be jolly lucky if I wasn’t charged with murder.
‘There was no murder because they didn’t deliberately set out to kill someone. But the manslaughter case seems to me unanswerable. Everybody involved in those spending decisions has a case to answer. The person who recommended the cladding, the people who put it on, the councillors who agreed it, the officials who signed it off and had responsibilities to the public.
‘The idea that the people responsible for all of this are still in power in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea is mind-boggling to me. It’s mind boggling that they would want to remain in power, that they’d still be going around in their limousines and walking around the plushest of town halls, believe me, in Kensington and Chelsea.
‘All deaths are terrible but such a death, to be locked up effectively in a drawer in a filing cabinet in the sky waiting for the gas and the flames to kill you, my goodness. I don’t know how these people can even show up on the street, never mind continue to exercise their power as councillors. If there were fresh elections next Thursday, not a single one of the people responsible for this crime… would have an earthly chance of being reelected.’
Meanwhile GPs have been asked to quiz their patients on whether they have smoke alarms and fire escape routes and to refer them if they are concerned. GPs say that although this is a laudable request, first this is the responsibility of the local councils and landlords and secondly they need to focus and concentrate on a patients symptoms in the extremely short time they have during a GP appointment.
It is NHS England who has written to GP practices asking them to check whether their patients who live in high-rise buildings have a working fire alarm and know how to get out of the building should it sound. It follows a request from the National Fire Chiefs Council to NHS England, among other public health and housing bodies and local authorities, to help promote free fire safety visits available to residents.
NHS England’s London team asked that ‘frontline staff seeing patients or clients in high rise premises’ run through the four-question list and, if the patient answers no to any question, refer them for the check.
Londonwide LMCs said that their GP colleagues were ‘dealing day-to-day with those directly affected’ by the tragedy in Grenfell Tower and they are ‘acutely aware’ of the importance of protecting patients, and in particular the elderly, from potential fire risks.
But they warned that GPs’ days are already filled to bursting and diverting time to identifying which residents need fire safety advice would be ‘detrimental’ to patients – and could even put clinicians at risk.
In the wake of the tragedy, the letter from the NFCC asks for their help engaging with staff in ‘regular contact with people living in high-rise premises (i.e. housing officers, environmental health officers, housing trusts, health workers, carers etc)’.
It asks for their help promoting ‘basic but very important fire safety information and questions to people living in these types of dwellings’. The questions GP are expected to ask high-rise residents are:
• Does the householder have a working smoke alarm?
• If the smoke alarm activates, would the householder be able to hear it?
• Does the householder know what to do if the smoke alarm activates?
• Is the householder able to get out of the premises if the smoke alarm activated?
If the householder answers no to any of the above questions, it says practices should make a referral to them for a home fire safety visit. The request to practices, from NHS England (London) emergency preparedness, resilience and response manager Graham Leedham, says: ‘This is primarily targeted at organisations who have staff working in the community but may also be pertinent to those who have contact with persons living in high rise accommodation.’
Dr Michelle Drage, chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said that GPs are at capacity and it was the role of a landlord to ensure their tenants were safe and informed.
Dr Drage said: ‘The National Fire Chiefs Council’s aims are laudable, but it is the responsibility of the landlords and management agencies of high-rise blocks to make sure residents are familiar with fire safety arrangements and they should be the ones providing the time and resource to do so.
‘Hard-pressed GPs and practice teams already struggle to meet patients’ health needs in the ten-minutes allotted for consultations. Diverting time to identifying which of 60, 70 or more patient contacts a day need fire safety advice would be detrimental to providing care and place undue risk on clinicians and their teams.’
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey reiterated this was not the role of the GP but added that it was helpful for practices to know where to direct patients if they themselves raised concerns.
He said: ‘Whilst being well-intended, this is not a role for GPs to be fulfilling, although being aware about the options for a fire safety visit for those patients who raise this as a concern themselves could be helpful for practices to know about.’ NHS England has not returned a request for comment.