The London fire from my perspective

I was approached by Sky news two days ago via twitter to give my take as a retired firefighter on the fire at Grenfell tower in West London. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties on my side we were unable to carry out the interview live on TV so I thought I’d just give a little perspective as a retired firefighter in this blog.

As a serving firefighter, I have had to deal with a lot of blazes in high-rise blocks many times in my 25 year career and I can tell you now that at the Grenfell tower fire, crews were confronted by terrible scenes. The situation faced at Grenfell Tower in London would have been extremely difficult because the fire was able to spread so rapidly, and appeared to engulf nearly the entire building.  Fire safety experts have already pointed to cladding on the building as a likely reason the blaze spread so quickly – making it impossible for the fire to be contained floor-by-floor. But as a well trained firefighter, you turn the last corner and see something like that in front of you and it makes you go into almost automatic pilot.

Normally firefighters arriving at the scene of a high-rise building fire would set up a base about two floors below the actual fire. This allows them to set up entry control points, so firefighters going to fight the blaze can be recorded, and crucially, have their breathing apparatus checked so it’s clear how much time they can spend in a dangerous, smoke-filled area. The amount of time each person can spend fighting the fire is limited by the amount of air available – so any minutes spent climbing up into a building with equipment is precious fire-fighting time wasted.

You’re going to use a considerable amount of air going up the 10 floors, so because of that and various other things, they will set up the control point two floors below the fire. Once they are able to go in, the immediate focus, if people are reported to be trapped in the building, would be on rescuing them, rather than firefighting, and the firefighters would carry minimum levels of equipment for that reason. They will have to fight their way in, in some instances, but they will take chances when people’s lives are at risk.

But because the  fire was spreading so rapidly at Grenfell tower, for the firefighters to get 20 storeys up to rescue people in that situation is something special. Firefighters did eventually reach the top floor “but it took them hours to get there. It couldn’t have been quicker because without extra air supply for the person rescued, the journey back out of the building would be extremely dangerous. The firefighters on the scene would also have had to operate from a very low level in the building because of how far the blaze had spread, and there were concerns that the building might collapse.

My former colleague Dany Cotton whom is now the London Fire Brigade commissioner said the firefighters “didn’t waver. They were going through there time and time again battling through the floors looking for people. The thing that worries me going forward is the psychological effect. A lot of my firefighters yesterday experienced things they have never seen before. I spoke to some people who were truly distressed – not least because they knew there were people still in there and they were battling through the heat to get there. What happened [yesterday] truly traumatised a lot of people.”

I totally agree with her.




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Trump’s attack on my London mayor

In the wake of this weekend’s terrorist attack in London, President Trump took to Twitter, first spreading news reports of the attack, then boosting his calls for a “travel ban” from Muslim-majority countries, and finally continuing a personal vendetta against London’s mayor.

White House denies Donald Trump picking fight with Sadiq Khan – video

On Sunday morning Trump tweeted: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!” He took the mayor’s comments wildly out of context—and insulted a leader trying to guide his city just hours after the deadly attack. On Monday morning Trump persisted. “Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his “no reason to be alarmed” statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!” Trump also launched a tweetstorm criticizing his Justice Department’s strategy in defending his beleaguered travel ban, and called on the Supreme Court to quickly overturn lower court restraining orders on his ban. “The courts are slow and political,” he added. All in all it was striking response by the president to a terror attack. But as shocking as it was, it represents the new normal in presidential communication.

Sadiq Khan says the US president is wrong about many things and that the state visit to Britain should not go ahead. I agree.

Thank god that Khan is my mayor and Trump is definitely not my president.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has been ‘too busy’ to respond to Trump’s comments

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has been ‘too busy’ to respond to Trump’s comments

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Politicians spar over security after London Bridge attack

It was supposed to be the Brexit election. Instead it is the issue of security that dominates today after another terror attack struck a British city and election campaigning was suspended for the second time. Sunday’s suspension was more brief than that agreed after the Manchester Arena bombing, and different in tone – perhaps inevitable after the second terrorist strike in a fortnight, and with just days to go before voters head to the polls.

Theresa May emerged from a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee to announce: “Enough is enough. While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. ” On what she thought still needed to be done, May said there could be increased prison terms for even minor terrorism offences, and targeted internet companies:

“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed – yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide. We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.”

Returning to the stump on Sunday evening, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took a different view on how extremism could be tackled: “You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts.”

Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of ‘crying wolf’. That is a reference to a speech made by May as home secretary two years ago, in which she accused Police Federation delegates of scaremongering and “crying wolf” over cuts in police funding.

Corbyn also sought to distance himself from some of his own past comments, notably a 2015 BBC interview in which he said he was “not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general” on Britain’s streets (an interview the BBC Trust later ruled was presented out of context). Speaking on Sunday, the Labour leader said he backed the actions of armed police who shot dead the three suspects just eight minutes after the first emergency call:

“I will take whatever action is necessary and effective to protect the security of our people and our country. That includes full authority for the police to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save life as they did last night.”

Corbyn finds backing this morning for his argument that “difficult conversations” need to be had with countries including Saudi Arabia over the funding of extremism. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron echoed Corbyn’s call for a report commissioned by David Cameron into funding of jihadi groups to be published.


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Intern opportunity

I am an author who has published a self-help book called “Firefighting from within”. I am looking for a dedicated self-starter who wants to positively influence the world using the tools of digital marketing and public relations. You will get a chance to learn how to launch a self-published best-seller and to build an influential company from podcasts, videos, marketing advertising, and public relationships. Send an email to or use the contact tab on this website for more details.


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Bounce Back After a Crisis

Suffering a serious career crisis can have long-term consequences – but the surprise is that some consequences can be so positive that we feel grateful for the experience.

Many people who have been through a “seismic” crisis say it led to a new lease of life, or a desire to learn or to help others. You can explore this in this article, Managing Post-Traumatic Growth.

Your ability to bounce back stronger from a crisis can depend on your resilience, and whether you have a positive outlook. Find out how you can boost these traits with these articles, Developing Resilience and Dweck’s Mindsets. ( Source: )



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The Firefighter Recovering

The number one step is to forgive yourself. You are not a defective piece of equipment. You are never a failure for your feelings. There is no dishonor in what you have experienced. In fact, many of the strongest, kindest, noblest firefighters I ever met had come through some terrible darkness and lived to see the other side. Suicide attempts, opiate addiction, alcoholism, poverty, and crime. To come to terms with the dark parts of your history requires great integrity and courage.
Alcoholism, in particular, is nasty because it is self-perpetuating. It is cyclical. Every firefighter knows the feeling of intense panic, clenching at the chest. Every firefighter knows the unbearable waves of hot shame that follow an unfortunate error, rising in your gullet. Who wouldn’t want to escape that? You get drunk one night, go too far, and you do some stupid, embarrassing stuff. The next day, you’re carrying around that shame, on top of the problems from before, on top of a hangover and the residual depressive effects of the alcohol. You struggle through the day, feeling rough, and when work is done, all you can think about is drinking again to forget about it. Then, the next day, you’re carrying around double your share of a hangover. The further dehydration and depression continue, like in long division. You never resolved your shame from the first night, either – you just avoided it, and now you’ve compounded it with some new guilt. Well – maybe tonight will be different.
Before you know it, you’re trapped. You’re carrying around such a tangle of problems that you need that drink every day to feel okay. At that point, you are no longer in control of yourself.
Alcoholism is sad and hard. But it’s not unique. Many, many firefighters grapple with it every day. Our culture practically demands it. Alcohol is bonding, ritual, comfort. It knits the squad together. And we use it to cope, too – to briefly forget our emotional distress, our chemical imbalances, our broken homes, our long-term injuries, our fallen friends. We drink to cope with the fact that; we just don’t care anymore. This is why alcohol is seductive. It’s like a bad friend, sneaking around to whisper in your ear – “It doesn’t matter.”. You start to talk to yourself differently – “Stupid of you, like usual. What’s the point? Damn disgrace – just gut it out, and you can get drunk.” It affects your health, too. Headaches, high blood pressure, liver and kidney problems. Acid reflux, stomach ulcers. Weight gain, less testosterone. You become slower, dumber, less cautious, more anxious.
When you quit, the first week or so will be the worst. Depending on how long you’ve been a drinker, it can even be extremely dangerous. If you’ve been abusing alcohol for a while, you can expect it to be something like the worst flu you’ve ever had. It’ll probably start with a jittery, nervous feeling. You’ll start craving your daily drink, and as time wears on without getting it, you’ll start experiencing headaches and a lot of anxiety. This will eventually translate into actual shaking, starting with the fingertips and potentially move across your entire body if you’ve been an alcoholic long enough. The first night will likely pass sleeplessly, as you feel uncomfortable and prickly. But the next day or so is when things start getting rough. Deprived of its usual alcohol dosage, your body has no idea how to function. You’ll experience terrible nausea, and probably spend a lot of time hunched over the toilet bowl, dry heaving, and retching. You’ll alternately be sweating or shivering cold, or both. Your head will hurt so bad it feels like your brain is pushing your eyeballs out of your skull. Clear thinking is next to impossible.
At this stage, it’s crucial to be careful. You should consult your doctor before quitting alcohol cold turkey. They will advise you not to do this at home. They can prescribe you medication that can help with the cravings and side-effects, or devise a program to wean you off. If you’ve been drinking consistently for years, suddenly quitting carries a grave risk of seizures or even death. Alcohol is one of the drugs that can kill you when you quit. Many drugs will make you feel awful when you quit, but alcohol would rather kill you than let you go. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to make your stand in a hospital or a rehab clinic. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The withdrawals hit their peak around the 3rd day or so. At this point, you will likely be totally out of commission. If you have been a drinker for a long time, you will probably lose most of your motor skills and will have to ride it out in a hospital or clinic. This can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week, depending on your condition. This period should be marked by regular attendance at therapy, to help coach you through this difficult time. Your brain will not be functioning well, your emotions will be out of balance, and you probably will experience a lot of anger, guilt, and confusion. You’ll have to do the hard work of forgiving yourself, which often starts with confronting the things in your past that led you to drink in the first place. This is a time where your friends and family will have to be patient with you, and you with them. From here, it only gets better.
Around week 2, you will start to emerge from under the cloud. Your body and brain will start to recover, and you will find that you feel far, far better than you have in a long time. You’ll start to notice colors being more vibrant, smells more distinct. Your reflexes and memory will improve. At this point, the cravings will most likely still be pretty bad, but you won’t have a dark fog hanging over your brain at all times. At around a month, you’ll be feeling great – and this is the point at which you have to be extra careful. You’ll feel so good that you’ll start to let your guard down. You’ll feel so proud that you figure you can handle anything – even a drink or two. This is where a lot of people slip up. If you do, there’s no shame in it – it’s more common than not. Just tell your support and pick up back at square one, a little wiser. But if you manage to power through, you’ll be rewarded with increased faculty and agency. You’ll be thinner, with more testosterone and a more resilient mind. But best of all, you won’t have the feelings of guilt and self-directed anger always bubbling up inside you. In their place will be a gentle pride and the collected wisdom that only comes from hard-earned life lessons. You’ll be free, like a person just out of prison.
It’s a tough road, but when you come out on the other side, you’ll carry yourself with the strength and conviction that only those who have seen rock bottom can know. You’ll recognize the struggle in your friends and fellow firefighters, and you’ll be able to help them, too. They’ll see your resiliency, and you won’t be afraid to lend them a shoulder to lean on when they need it. They’ll need your compassion. If you’re struggling with alcohol, understand that you never need to take another drink, if you don’t want to. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can live through this, and see a brighter world than you ever imagined was possible. Reach out to a trusted firefighter, friend, therapist or me today. There is no shame in bettering yourself. (Source: Mark W Lamplugh Jr. )

Firefighter blog

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Defend. Protect.

When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose … We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our Constitution. – Meryl Streep, Golden Globes, Jan. 8, 2016

Our lives are built on information. We interpret it. We ingest it. We rely on it to make decisions that greatly and gravely affect our lives. But if that information is skewed, if only half the story is told, and if journalists are denied access to the halls of power while corporate interests preside over the public interest, who loses? We do.

As the USA transitions from one administration to another, the need to be vigilant has never been more critical. Thanks to you, the Center for Public Integrity finished strong in 2016 and enters 2017 backed by 28 years of deep-dive investigations that reveal extraordinary abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of public trust by powerful public and private institutions.

But they need your support to keep that reporting robust. As the esteemed actress Meryl Streep said, we need to hold the powerful to account.

“We’re going to need them [journalists] going forward and they’re going to need us, to safeguard the truth.”

Please support the work of the Center for Public Integrity.


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Happy New Year 2017!

Best wishes for a bright and promising New Year 2017! We hope it is the best year ever for you filled with everything that makes you happy and keeps you safe. Happy New Year 2017!
Sincerely yours,


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Happy Holidays

Wishing you all Happy Holidays!

May your dearest dreams come true. May your days be filled with joy and happiness. We wish you success in all your endeavors! Spend this holiday with your loved ones. Take care of yourselves and be happy!



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Get yourself ready for a great year ahead

During this time of year, it’s only natural for us to think about endings – but I’m always more interested in beginnings. Just as soon as this year’s holiday parties are wrapped, we’ll be thrown headlong into a brand new year – and a fresh opportunity to thrive. As you wind things down for 2016, make sure you’re also winding up for 2017. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for a great new year: Set goals and make resolutions.

That’s why December is one of my favorite times of the year, because it means the end is near and there’s a clear path to a new beginning. It’s a great time not only to look forward to the future but to think about where you are now.

Regardless of where you are at in your life, I believe you always need goals to help you keep growing and improving. You should have big dreams for yourself. And in order to reach those dreams, it’s important to check in with yourself on your needs and your progress. It keeps you accountable — and makes things actually happen.

I want us all to take some time this month to think about our growth this year. What did you set out to achieve in January? Maybe it was as straightforward as keeping up a regular exercise schedule. Or maybe you were aiming for a promotion this year, or to get serious with someone you care about. Whatever it was, how did you do with that goal? And how can you continue to improve on it until the end of the year?

What helps me track progress is writing down a big question that I have on a Post-It, and then possible solutions. It forces me to think of solutions to something that might have seemed big or overwhelming.

For example, perhaps at the beginning of the year you’d said you wanted to run your first marathon. But it was overwhelming, and tough, and it just never happened. That doesn’t mean that goal is a wash. You just need some time to focus on getting there.

You could write on your Post-It: How can I get ready for a marathon? And then write down what you’d need to do to answer that question, like asking friends who have run one before for advice and coaching, starting a fundraising page, downloading a workout app or getting new running shoes. Breaking that big question down into smaller answers can make it seem less intimidating and much easier to get started on.

Knowing that the end of the year is upon us, I’ve already begun to eat a little healthier, started working out just a little bit more and have set my first travel plan with my family. I am ready to take on 2017 with a vengeance.

I hope that you to can join me in this push through the tail-end of 2016. Make sure you are on track to bring something awesome into the new year with you. Make this the best year you have ever had, and know that next year has the potential to be even better. Keep telling yourself that, because the universe is listening.

Open diary New Years Day on wood background

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