The Spanish army a few years ago set up a special unit to help the civil authorities if there is an emergency, ranging from forest fires to a terror attack. This unit draws together many army skills from logistical support to firefighting and even catering and medical services. The unit has been deployed successfully on numerous occasions over the last few years.

At a time when it appears that Britain’s emergency services are short of manpower and equipment perhaps it might be a good idea if Britain established a similar unit. Like many others I was shocked by the BBC Panorama report on Monday night which underlined the horrors of the fire at Grenfell Tower in London. One of the points made by the programme was the complete lack of support from the authorities. Even the food, drink, blankets and toys which had been donated by the public had to be distributed by civilian volunteers because there was no one else. This is incredible because there are thousands of soldiers stationed in London supported by the Territorial Army, who could have easily been called in for support.

It must be remembered that the armed forces have specially trained firefighters; in the case of the Royal Navy they are trained to deal with fires in the most difficult environments ranging from submarines to ammunition ships. Perhaps the time has come for a re-organising of the armed forces so that they help their civilain counterparts.