Sir David Amess, who was killed today at his constituency surgery, was the chair of the APPG on fire safety and jointly chaired meetings with the APPG on leasehold and commonhold reform. He was a highly effective chair, asking MP colleagues to refine and clarify their views on, particularly this year, the cladding and building safety issues that are besetting so many leaseholders. They owe him a great debt of gratitude. LKP offers condolences to all who loved him.
Tribute from Sir Peter Bottomley, Father of the House
Former MP, fire officer and LKP patron Jim Fitzpatrick adds this tribute to Sir David Amess:
David was a champion of many causes and Fire Safety was most prominent. Whether it was for Fire Sprinklers in Schools or general fire safety and in recent years post Grenfell, safety in high rise, safer white goods and particularly Justice for Leaseholders facing huge and unfair bills for remedial repairs and safe homes. David was tireless in his advocacy on Fire matters and will be greatly missed.
Tribute to Sir David Amess, chair of the APPG Fire Safety and Rescue Group by Ronnie King OBE
On behalf of the All-Party Group, I would like to pay this personal tribute to our Chairman and dear friend, Sir David Amess MP, who suffered a brutal and horrific attack and was taken from us on Friday 15th October, and whom we will all miss tremendously:
I have been privileged to know Sir David as a great ‘champion’ for Fire Safety & Rescue and a good and true friend over the past twenty years through our work together with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fire Safety and Rescue, which he chaired with much vigour and passion. I am proud to have been its Fire Adviser and Honorary Administrative Secretary for the past ten of those years, and our lives have been enriched by having the benefit of having such a committed and kind person leading the Group, whose decency touched everybody he met. His sunny optimism, revealed by that broad smile, his basic decency, his generosity and his modesty made him a wonderful Leader for the Group.
He was one of those rare human beings who looked for the best in others and, in doing so, brought out the best in them. He was dedicated, passionate, firm in his beliefs but never anything less than respectful for those who thought differently, which is why he got the best out of this ‘cross party’ Group. A really lovely man, who was one of that select band of people who are truly life-enhancing.
When you left a meeting with David, even a chance encounter, you felt happier and better than you had felt before. I have travelled with him across London and the wider country to Fire Safety events meeting his wife, one of his daughters and constituents, as well as working closely with his team of staff in Westminster and Southend West.
He has included me in events in the ‘Speaker’s House’ and charitable events like the “Music Man” at the Albert Hall, as well as meetings and introductions with the Prime Minister and Secretaries of State, all of which you can imagine have been truly enriching.
In paying tribute to Sir David, whom I will miss tremendously, I should start by saying he was a great respecter of the Fire & Rescue Service, as he had been personally involved with two separate incidents with fire fatalities, whilst in Basildon, both of which had a great impact on him.
No one could have been more passionate about Fire Safety, nor fought harder for it over the past 10 years, following the fire tragedies of Lakanal House and Grenfell Tower. Whenever he spoke on Fire and Safety David’s message was consistent, as evidenced in his article in Parliament’s own House Magazine of 9th March 2020 where he said:
“The horrendous Grenfell Tower fire should never have happened; if only the recommendations and advice of the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group had been listened to following the Lakanal House fire.
“It is important to mobilise the expertise in the UK’s fire safety sector. Heightened awareness combined with effective protection and resilient, robust, low-risk construction is essential. That includes applying best-protection practice. It therefore remains a mystery why the benefits of sprinklers are not more widely employed with fire containment.
“Recent fires where there was substantial destruction – such as the Beechmere care home, hotels at Willenhall and Bristol, flats at Barking, and the Cube student block in Bolton – point to further probing questions: ‘How can today’s buildings be apparently so vulnerable to fire”?
“The scandal of apartment leaseholders unfairly confronted by high costs, trapped in blocks judged unsafe because of ACM cladding, illustrates the wider community impact of fire.”
In the last conversation we had together he reiterated that ‘we mustn’t let the department for Education get away with removing sprinkler protection from all but a few schools, in its recently revised DRAFT design for new schools!’ (consultation closed).’ He said he would now write to the new Education Secretary’.
Sir David’s drive and enthusiasm for fire-safe buildings, made the APPG, almost uniquely, a principal part of the fabric of the UKs fire safety sector.’
I strongly believe therefore that the All-Party Parliamentary Group, and the wider Fire Safety Sector owe it to Sir David to continue his fine work with even greater vigour.
Can we also take a moment in this tribute to think about Sir David’s staff and what they must be going through, two of whom were present during this horrific attack. Our thoughts are with them and for their futures.
Lastly Sir David is survived by a lovely family: Julia, his wife, and his children David jnr, Katherine, Sarah, Alex and Florence. It is with sadness that the family comes from ‘all corners’ to be back together in the now City of Southend.
The Group prays for them collectively. Their statement on Sunday 17th October was poignant.
They said: “We ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all”. This statement , released in their unimaginable shock and grief, shows such extraordinary dignity.
The All-Party Group holds them in our thoughts, and our love and our prayers are with them. May perpetual light shine upon Sir David and may he rest in peace.
Ronnie King OBE, O.St.J, QFSM, F.I.Fire E – Fire Adviser and Honorary Administrative Secretary