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An appalling fire due to cutting regulations… June 20, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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SonofStan noted how incredibly bad the response to this was by state and city authorities. Hundreds of people made homeless in one of the richest cities on Earth and what are the mechanisms to alleviate their situation (or that if residents around the Tower in houses where gas and electricity are cut off)?

In every respect this is abysmal. And in a way Grenfall Tower is such an appalling example of the sheer heartlessness and cruelty of a political and economic approach where – as the Guardian argues – saving money is put ahead of lives that she would be hard pressed to offer explanations, let alone solutions, but, even so.
And that political approach?

Ronnie King knows as much as anyone about fire safety – and about dealing with politicians. Five days on from the Grenfell Tower disaster, he offers this assessment: “I am a fire officer and I was a chief fire officer for 20 years, and 41 years in the fire and rescue service in Scotland, London, Wales and Yorkshire. I understand the difficulties [politicians] have with this, with passing on regulations to people who have to pay for them.

“But it is a very frustrating thing for me, because of my background and experience, seeing lives lost in fires and knowing there is a solution. They seem to need a disaster to change regulations, rather than evidence and experience. It was the same with the King’s Cross fire and the Bradford City football club fire. They always seem to need a significant loss of life before things are changed.”

And:

In recent years, however, it has struggled to get its voice heard by Conservative ministers who have prioritised the need to save money and deregulate, and – in the view of experts – relegated safety issues down their list of concerns.

And an example…

There are clear signs in all this of a major scandal in the making that extends far wider than housing blocks. The Observer has learned that successive governments have commissioned and paid for – over the past 12 years – a series of reports into the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of sprinkler systems in the construction of new buildings, including schools and care homes. All have concluded beyond any doubt that they should be used.

Yet last year fire experts were enraged when ministers decided to loosen, not tighten, regulations to allow new schools to be built without sprinkler systems at all. The need to build more schools fast and cheaply appeared to have prevailed.

Think about that. A school, many schools, without proper fire protection. Insanity, yes. But criminal also.

BTW, as the Guardian notes, Labour as well as Tory governments share some of the blame.

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Comments»

1. benmadigan - June 20, 2017

we still don’t know and may never know exactly how many people perished in the fire
https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/missing-presumed-dead-in-kensington/

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2. Aonrud ⚘ - June 20, 2017

Came across this quote from former Housing Minister Brandon Lewis in the past week (apologies if it’s been posted here before):

We believe that it is the responsibility of the fire industry, rather than the Government, to market fire sprinkler systems effectively and to encourage their wider installation.

It demonstrates a fairly remarkable ideological adherence.

In searching to find the quote again, I came across this fine piece of laboured metaphor on Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-06-16/beware-of-blaming-government-for-london-tower-fire If you’re feeling brave, go and wonder at the remarkable twisting of a driving analogy. Apparently lack of fire safety is a perfectly sensible calculated risk… we wouldn’t drive at 25kph… something something markets…

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3. theordinaryman2017blog - June 20, 2017

Generally I think it is only fair to allow a full investigation to take place before commenting on failures of individuals and organisations in cases like this. This time it looks increasing likely that austerity and government policy along with local organisational failures will play a very significant part in the investigation. I suspect that unless a cover up is instigated and this is quite possible with a government in tatters and disarray, then the outcome of an investigation will lay the blame fairly and squarely on failures of government, council, building regulations and so on. This was a disaster waiting to happen, and likely to be repeated if urgent action is not taken. This is a modern day disgrace and anyone in office who has voted to deregulate or voted against the previous recommendations on tower block fire safety should immediately resign, pending their fate through due process and investigation.

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WorldbyStorm - June 20, 2017

I generally feel the same re investigations but like you this is different .

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4. aidan (@amaodhan) - June 20, 2017

“Think about that. A school, many schools, without proper fire protection. Insanity, yes. But criminal also.”

Trust me, I have!
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/pupils-at-firetrap-school-for-6-years-357721.html

This same company are still building schools by the way.

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WorldbyStorm - June 20, 2017

Very interesting anc concerning.

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yourcousin - June 23, 2017

Hate to play stickler here but as probably one of the only people here who deals in life safety in buildings (even on a different continent) on a regular basis, I feel the need to comment on this article and some of the issues that were “found”.

I would also point out that buildings are usually a collaboration between owners, architects, engineers and the builder. One would then have the permitting process and inspections. Again acknowledging that things are different everywhere but still…

“The lack of cavity barriers within walls to prevent a fire from spreading”

Could be as simple as holes in the drywall, again something that could have been done after turn over.

“The storage of combustible material in escape routes”

Most definitely not a builder’s fault that half a decade after the completion of the job the users puts things in a hallway.

“Inadequate ‘fire stopping’ on fire-resistant doors to prevent smoke seeping through during a blaze.”

Going out on a limb here, but as a guy who literally made his living for years installing doors and hardware on commercial construction sites I would bet a six pack that the missing component is smoke seal, a rubber gasketing that is affixed to the jamb to help prevent smoke seepage. Again after warranty, typically 11 months to a year that would become a maintainence issue. Having worked on a multitude of schools over the years I can say from experience that kids/teenagers are extremely hard on buildings. So that would not be surprising.

I would be curious to see the whole report and dig into where the cost is coming because the noted discrepancies all seem fairly minor (with the exception of the structural painting). Not saying the builder is a fine stand up fellow and they may very well be a shitty contractor but what was listed here is far from a smoking gun.

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