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Grenfell Tower firefighters say they may never get over tragedy

The North Kensington fire station crew who responded to the fire said they want to help heal the community after grieving with them


By FireRescue1 Staff

LONDON — Firefighters who were the first to respond to the tragic scene of the Grenfell Tower fire expressed their grief, saying they may never get over the experience.

The North Kensington station firefighters spoke for the first time to Sky News  about what they endured while battling the blaze.

Nine firefighters are now raising money for the children affected by the fire by running the London marathon and giving the funds to Kids on the Green. (Photo/Just Giving)
Nine firefighters are now raising money for the children affected by the fire by running the London marathon and giving the funds to Kids on the Green. (Photo/Just Giving)

“It was just the speed of it. The quantity of people involved, the number of firefighters there. I've never ever experienced anything like it before. It was shocking,” 20-year fire veteran Justin O’Berne said. "I've witnessed a lot of things through my career and many things have had an impact on me but nothing on this scale. There are multiple incidents that will live with me and I don't know how long it will take to get over them."

Nine of the firefighters from the station are now raising money for the children affected by the fire by running the London marathon and giving the funds to Kids on the Green, a volunteer organization that provides therapy for traumatized children.

"I've been going to counselling for some time now,” O’Berne said. “Our chief fire officer has openly spoken about counselling and the charity we're running for provides counselling for the children that have been affected by the fire.”

The North Kensington firefighters said they want to rebuild the community they have grieved and supported in the aftermath of the fire.

"We want to put back into the community to give these kids and families a chance to recover like we have been recovering,” firefighter Michael Kirkpatrick said.

Kids on the Green spokesman Will Wiles said they are “overflowing with gratitude” that the firefighters are willing to help.

"For us at Kids on the Green it is a powerful demonstration of solidarity that those who suffered from the fire and those who fought the fire, at great personal cost, are now closer than ever and working together to rebuild our community,” he said.

To learn more about the charity, click here.

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