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Thursday, 28 June 2018

On his watch

His crew struggled to cut through thick black smoke.

Doorknobs too hot to handle.

Going in above the fire

to knock on doors, get people out.

Exceeding the ten minutes of safety

on their breathing apparatus

Putting their own mask on casualties.

Carrying a casualty alone, sometimes

more than one at a time

You can’t see colour in smoke.


After watching the footage,

played back from a mobile phone,

the fire spitting and sparking,

he repeated again

he was ‘outside his comfort zone’,

wiped his eyes with a handkerchief.

Offered a five minute break.

The officer said ‘ten please’.


© Judith Wozniak

Grenfell Inquiry dramatically halted after firefighter Michael Dowden breaks down over mobile phone footage

Judith Wozniak is a retired GP living in Hampshire. She is currently a student at the Poetry School in London.



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