Local News

Firefighter pens devastating account of what it was like in Grenfell Tower fire

“I'm not looking for praise I just want to let you know we did all we could.”

By Kate Wagner
A firefighter’s heartbreaking recount of the Grenfell Tower blaze has gone viral as they explain the horrors inside the building.
In the lengthy post, the anonymous firefighter described the “horrible” choices they had to make in a very short amount of time while trying to evacuate tenants as high as the 20th floor.
“Some things I will miss out as they don't need to be said, some I can't say, other things I will simplify so hopefully everyone can understand them,” they wrote.
“I'm not looking for praise I just want to let you know we did all we could.”
The firefighter was assigned to the 23rd floor of the 24-storey building and, with more than 30kg of equipment, they began the terrifying ascent.
“Around the 9th floor we lost all visibility and the heat was rising. Still we continued up and up through the blackness. We reached what we believed to be the 19/20th floor but there was no way to tell,” they wrote.
“It was here where we found a couple trying to find their way out, panicking, choking, blinded by the thick toxic air.”
The couple insisted there was five people above who still needed help and the firefighter asked themselves an extensive list of uncomfortable questions in less than a minute, including:
• Was the information we are getting from these people was correct. After all they are frantically panicking as they choke and suffer from the heat.
• How would we decide who to take?
• Are we really where we think we are?
• Is the structure still safe?
Grenfell Tower during the huge blaze.
With the thick smoke seeping into their lungs and making it nearly impossible to see, the firefighter and their partner decide to help the couple.
“Down and down we go... I hear a shout from behind me from my partner; the female casualty has become unconscious. My partner is now having to drag her down alone. I can't help at this time.”
On the way down, they run into a colleague who has sacrificed his breathing apparatus and helmet for casualties.
“He's given it to a casualty... he's coughing as he tells us, he's delirious from the heat and smoke.
“Still he tries to help carry the casualty! Helping others is still his first thought.”
The blaze continued for hours as firefighters desperately tried to put out the flames.
As soon as the firefighters and victims finally get to safety – all exhausted and severely dehydrated – they are approached by a woman whose friend is trapped on the 11th floor.
The firefighter urges her to stay on the phone with her friend and prepares to go back in.
“Those colleagues who a little while ago were collapsed and broken from on the grass from their first entry are back up, ready, stood in full kit waiting for their orders to go in again,” they explained.
“All this time, hour after hour, my colleagues were pushing themselves above and beyond what you'd think was humanly possible.”
The firefighter also used the post to protest the unfair pay given to UK firefighters who have been restricted to a one per cent pay increase each year.
People gathered around a nearby vigil for the dead and injured.
“I’m off to see my family and friends now. I might talk to them about it if I can, but then again I might not. I’m not sure they need to know what’s in my head just yet,” they wrote as they finished the letter.“Maybe once I’ve made sense of it I will.”
“Please take care out there people, but if you can’t don’t worry too much… We will be there looking out for you, all day every day!”
The death toll in the London fire has continued to steadily rise and currently stands at 58 confirmed or presumed dead.