Firefighter Michael Dowden should not have been in charge of such a big blaze, according to London fire brigade rules

The incident commander in the first hour of the Grenfell Tower fire felt “helpless” as the fire raged out of control and questioned why he was left in charge of a blaze that should have been commanded by a more senior officer, the Grenfell inquiry has heard.

Michael Dowden, a firefighter for 14 years and a watch manager at North Kensington fire station, was in charge of the response at Grenfell for the first hour in which the full height of the building became engulfed in flames. He questioned “whether I was the most experienced officer, the right and proper officer on that night”, adding that even as he saw people emerging with blackened faces and coughing and spluttering he did not consider discussing with the control room whether to change the “stay put” advice for the tower’s occupants.

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