Tower Block Disaster

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Psamathe
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Psamathe » 2 Nov 2019, 4:26pm

reohn2 wrote:......
EDIT,what the LFB head is saying is that there is no better strategy than leaving people in tower blocks to die.
Let's also not forget that the LFB has been put in this position by the utter lunacy of the fitting of inflammable cladding and that in itself broke the law.

I don't think that was what she actually said (though I'm in no position to be defending her).

The thing I still don't understand and nothing I've seen has explained it is the case for and against evacuation. I'm no firefighter so cannot guess the logic but I assume when this "policy" or "guideline" or "practice" (I don't even know its status) was developed there must have been good reason under sets of circumstances. Complete guess e.g. maybe it was foreseen risks of crushes of people pushing more slower movers downstairs and people being crushed under foot, etc. Maybe the policy was developed in the days when we didn't wrap out buildings with a flammable coating. Maybe there are limited circumstances for such action and maybe .....

I wonder if the policy came from days where the behaviour of fire in such blocks was understood and was very different from the behaviour of fires in what we have turned these blocks into.

I don't even know whose role it is to come-up with such "policies". I did see one Fire Brigade Union representative saying how there was no real central coordination across the different fire services which I can see may hinder lessons learnt being used more widely - but that is just from one brief interview so I'd want more info.

Lots of maybe's and what I've seen and read has not really even tried to answer those.

Ian

reohn2
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby reohn2 » 2 Nov 2019, 6:35pm

What she said when asked "would you do the same thing again in the same position" was "yes".
That is what I'm going off.
My understanding is that firefighters on the job wanted to evacuate people to safety whilst the stairwells were still accessible but were told not to.Some ignored the order and did in fact get some people out.
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Ben@Forest
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Ben@Forest » 2 Nov 2019, 6:59pm

Again on R4 they interviewed a Grenfell resident who had been a volunteer (presumably like retained) firefighter in Portugal. Early on in the fire he roused all the people on his floor and they all left. Even two hours later after ringing friends on the 21st floor and pleading with them they got out.

It does suggest that LFB had no dynamic plan and simply stuck to a preconceived idea. And that suggests incompetence.

reohn2
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby reohn2 » 2 Nov 2019, 7:02pm

Ben@Forest wrote:Again on R4 they interviewed a Grenfell resident who had been a volunteer (presumably like retained) firefighter in Portugal. Early on in the fire he roused all the people on his floor and they all left. Even two hours later after ringing friends on the 21st floor and pleading with them they got out.

It does suggest that LFB had no dynamic plan and simply stuck to a preconceived idea. And that suggests incompetence
.

That is my understanding of the situation,an organisation sticking doggedly to a plan that in the circumstances was obviously failing.
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100%JR
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby 100%JR » 2 Nov 2019, 8:20pm

reohn2 wrote:
Ben@Forest wrote:Again on R4 they interviewed a Grenfell resident who had been a volunteer (presumably like retained) firefighter in Portugal. Early on in the fire he roused all the people on his floor and they all left. Even two hours later after ringing friends on the 21st floor and pleading with them they got out.

It does suggest that LFB had no dynamic plan and simply stuck to a preconceived idea. And that suggests incompetence
.

That is my understanding of the situation,an organisation sticking doggedly to a plan that in the circumstances was obviously failing.

This was explained by an ex-firefighter on Radio 2.The "stay put" is a common FB guideline and any firefighter going against it can be charged with gross misconduct.The theory is that in high-rise living accommodation each unit is supposed to contain a fire.This is UK law/building regulations.The fact that the cladding was neither tested and was in fact the direct cause of the spread will be brought up in the next phase of the enquiry in January.Pretty much everyone agrees that that stage of the enquiry should have come first especially with Social Media etc and how quick it is to vilify LFB,who were in fact following protocol.....however stupid that protocol seems.
There's a list of incompetencies and someone,somewhere,has got very rich of these contracts.Very easy to blame LFB(now that thought has been planted) when in fact the list of failings from Government,LCC,suppliers,contractors is as long as your arm.
Those Fire fighters were risking their lives without the knowledge that that Tower block(and over 70-odd others) was a ticking bomb they had no information on......or rather the information was incorrect as the building had not been refurbished up to the actual guidelines.
Shame on all those blaming them,especially the gutter press :x

Bonefishblues
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Bonefishblues » 2 Nov 2019, 8:50pm

The fact remains that it could readily be seen that the cladding was spreading the blaze, and further that the fire was entering the flats from the outside.

At that point the widely-accepted plan/mantra of those at risk staying put because they were safer doing so was screwed.

It's right that the cause of the conflagration was the cladding, but that said, the plan should have been abandoned much much earlier than it was. If it had have been, then many more people would have survived. The testimony of the Commissioner is an insight as to why it wasn't.

100%JR
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby 100%JR » 2 Nov 2019, 9:04pm

Bonefishblues wrote:The fact remains that it could readily be seen that the cladding was spreading the blaze, and further that the fire was entering the flats from the outside.

At that point the widely-accepted plan/mantra of those at risk staying put because they were safer doing so was screwed.

It's right that the cause of the conflagration was the cladding, but that said, the plan should have been abandoned much much earlier than it was. If it had have been, then many more people would have survived. The testimony of the Commissioner is an insight as to why it wasn't.


LFB were damned if they do damned if they don't.They don't make these stupid policies,they're done by suits in an office :roll:
Just imagine what would have happened if they'd gone against protocol and everyone in the building,including Fire Fighters died?They'd(The press etc) would be baying for blood/murder charges!
As many Fire fighters have stated they can only do what they told/trained to do.Like Soldiers they were just following orders.
It's so easy to sit behind a keyboard and say "oh they should've done Blah,Blah,Blah".
I wonder how many of the FF who were there on that night are now experiencing Mental Health problems,PTSD etc.Now this report comes out and every "expert" from Journos to cyclists on a Forum jump blindly on a band wagon :|

Bonefishblues
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Bonefishblues » 2 Nov 2019, 9:28pm

100%JR wrote:
Bonefishblues wrote:The fact remains that it could readily be seen that the cladding was spreading the blaze, and further that the fire was entering the flats from the outside.

At that point the widely-accepted plan/mantra of those at risk staying put because they were safer doing so was screwed.

It's right that the cause of the conflagration was the cladding, but that said, the plan should have been abandoned much much earlier than it was. If it had have been, then many more people would have survived. The testimony of the Commissioner is an insight as to why it wasn't.


LFB were damned if they do damned if they don't.They don't make these stupid policies,they're done by suits in an office :roll:
Just imagine what would have happened if they'd gone against protocol and everyone in the building,including Fire Fighters died?They'd(The press etc) would be baying for blood/murder charges!
As many Fire fighters have stated they can only do what they told/trained to do.Like Soldiers they were just following orders.
It's so easy to sit behind a keyboard and say "oh they should've done Blah,Blah,Blah".
I wonder how many of the FF who were there on that night are now experiencing Mental Health problems,PTSD etc.Now this report comes out and every "expert" from Journos to cyclists on a Forum jump blindly on a band wagon :|

Leaving the silly rolleyes to one side, in most scenarios the stay put in a safe fireproof box is the right policy. That's got nothing to do with the dress of those who made the policy, and everything to do with risk assessment over many years.

Firefighters are well used to dynamic risk assessment, and consequent changes. It's a big part of their job in what are highly dynamic environments.

However, this principle fell away in the face of this situation, where it was abundantly clear what was happening. Fear of being charged with gross misconduct is an easy and I think rather trite explanation, the real reasons were much more deeply embedded in the culture of the London Fire Service and in particular it's leadership, as Sir Martin tried to explain.

Yours, someone with a keyboard who has taken a little trouble to try to understand things.

100%JR
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby 100%JR » 2 Nov 2019, 9:55pm

Bonefishblues wrote:someone with a keyboard who has taken a little trouble to try to understand things.

It appears so.

I understand that they're trying to throw LFB(and other brigades from surrounding Counties) under a Bus for something they had no control over.
I understand that,IMO,they used Enquiry 1 to plant the seed in the publics head that it's all the fault of the Fire Fighters.
I understand that had Enquiry 2(to be held in January) been Enquiry 1 then there would have been no scapegoat(LFB) and all the focus would have been on those truly responsible.
I understand it's Politics and British Politics is a hive of filth and scum who will do anything to steer the focus away from themselves.
Apart from that then yes I'm probably taking too little trouble to understand.

Do you use Social Media?
It can be a good tool and it can be a bad tool.Thankfully there are as many groups supporting LFB as there are screaming for blood.

I wonder how many high up Tory Party names will be linked to the contracts in Enquiry 2.
It stinks of corruption because it is corrupt :x

We should be getting behind LFB not blaming them.
Before anyone asks I have no connections with LFB,or any other Fire Brigade for that matter,I just hate to see the innocent blamed :|

Bonefishblues
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Bonefishblues » 2 Nov 2019, 10:13pm

You are implying a conspiracy of some proportion.

Here's my view, hugely condensed.

Nobody is criticising the ordinary fire fighters, their commitment or their bravery. What is being examined is an adherence to an obviously failed policy for far too long, way beyond the point at which it should have been screamingly obvious that it wasn't going to keep people safe - because it already wasn't.

When the senior officer appears at an Enquiry and makes statements such as those, it does raise questions as to what the reason is for that. These are seasoned, experienced, brave people, at least when they were active firefighters. Their mission was first and foremost to protect life, they're not fools, clearly, so there's some other dynamic at play that's not only worth examining, it must be examined. It's absolutely not about throwing anyone under a bus, but it's a statement of fact that many more people died than should have done on that night.

If however, someone knowingly clad that building in flammable materials, or was negligent in failing to exercise their duty of care, then there's no bus big enough, or heavy enough to throw them underneath. I reckon that the public can readily understand the two different scenarios.

slowster
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby slowster » 2 Nov 2019, 10:44pm

The stay put strategy was developed decades ago in conjunction with statutory Building Regulations which specified minimum standards of fire resistance and fire compartmentation of rooms and escape routes. The regulations and the stay put strategy have for the most part been extremely effective in the last 60 odd years in saving lives. Typically when there is a fire in a high rise building, it is contained in the room of origin, and the brigade can control and extinguish it.

It's not surprising that the Brigades are very hierachical organisations and that they sometimes exhibit rigid mindsets and approaches. Fire fighters are routinely deployed in extremely dangerous conditions, and they are able to do so because they follow the procedures that have been drilled into them in their training. If they deviate from what they are trained to do, it greatly increases the risk that they, or their colleagues, or other persons at risk in the building will be seriously harmed or even killed. They are of necessity a very highly disciplined organisation and they will always default to following procedure, including at senior levels.

I suspect that the report has been too simplistic in just stating that the decision to abandon the stay put policy and evacuate Grenfell Tower should have been taken earlier. I don't think the panel had the expertise, the experience, sufficient time, and sufficient resources to properly consider the full implications of that proposal. I am not saying that it is wrong, but rather if you are going to say that the brigade should have handled it differently, then you need to consider:

- what alternative procedures and guidelines they should have in place (not just say with the benefit of hindsight that fewer people might have died if an arbitrary decision had been made to go against procedures and evacuate earlier). I'm not suggesting the panel itself re-write the FB guidance, but it needs to be able to state with high confidence (based on expert evidence) that the procedures the brigades follow could reasonably be changed, and give some indication of when it thought that the procedures should indicate that evacuation should be considered.

- what the implications of brigades adopting such new guidelines might be. There is a clear danger that if you evacuate too early/unnecessarily, matters will be made worse. Firefighters will have to be diverted from fighting the fire to escorting people from the building and checking rooms and floors for anyone left behind. If corridors and stairwells are or become smoke logged during the evacuation, that will greatly endanger the people being evacuated (most people who are killed in fires die as a result of smoke inhalation).

- the potential need for far greater resources for mass evacuation, both in terms of numbers of firefighters, their equipment (not just more of it, but possibly different equipment, e.g. more sophisticated comms and computer equipment for managing a mass evacuation).

- the weight and limited duration of breathing apparatus is a major constraint on how long firefighters can work in buildings on fire, especially high rise buildings where they will use up a lot of their oxygen supply just going up the stairs carrying heavy equipment. Mass evacuations would probably necessitate strategies involving not only more firefighters but also many more BA kits, and possibly procedures for some firefighters to act like sherpas by transporting fresh BA kits up to the fire floors for their colleagues (i.e. similar tactics to climbing Everest). Some form of lightweight BA kit/smoke hood might also need to be provided to people being evacuated through smoke logged corridors and stairwells.

In other words, mass evacuation is not straightforward and entails its own risks and problems, which I don't think that the panel could possibly have explored properly given the time and resources it had available. It seems that the panel instead has said that the decision to evacuate earlier should have been taken without reference to any existing guidance or procedures, i.e. the incident commander was expected at some - possibly arbitrary - point to deviate from the rules that brigades always follow sooner than actually occurred at Grenfell Tower.

I suspect the criticism of the leadership of the brigade is flawed because it has not been founded on a sufficiently full understanding of the alternative course of action that it suggests should have been taken.

The FBU has complained about the report into the brigade's actions coming before the report of the causes of/contributory factors to the severity of the fire. I have some sympathy with that view, because the really big issue is not the action of the brigades, but rather the factors which resulted in a building which was inherently safe when built and first occupied being turned into a death trap. Much has been made of the flammable cladding, but from some comments I have read I think that there may be some other very significant factors (e.g. compartmentation breached and gas pipelines not properly enclosed in fire resisting material etc.). These raise major and very difficult questions about how we manage, control, regulate and enforce building safety in existing buildings. Prevention is vastly more important than cure, and overly focusing on the suggestion that brigades need to be prepared (and resourced, trained and equipped) for mass evacuation is a distraction from what matters most.

reohn2
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby reohn2 » 3 Nov 2019, 12:03am

100%JR wrote:
reohn2 wrote:
Ben@Forest wrote:Again on R4 they interviewed a Grenfell resident who had been a volunteer (presumably like retained) firefighter in Portugal. Early on in the fire he roused all the people on his floor and they all left. Even two hours later after ringing friends on the 21st floor and pleading with them they got out.

It does suggest that LFB had no dynamic plan and simply stuck to a preconceived idea. And that suggests incompetence
.

That is my understanding of the situation,an organisation sticking doggedly to a plan that in the circumstances was obviously failing.

This was explained by an ex-firefighter on Radio 2.The "stay put" is a common FB guideline and any firefighter going against it can be charged with gross misconduct.The theory is that in high-rise living accommodation each unit is supposed to contain a fire.This is UK law/building regulations.The fact that the cladding was neither tested and was in fact the direct cause of the spread will be brought up in the next phase of the enquiry in January.Pretty much everyone agrees that that stage of the enquiry should have come first especially with Social Media etc and how quick it is to vilify LFB,who were in fact following protocol.....however stupid that protocol seems.
There's a list of incompetencies and someone,somewhere,has got very rich of these contracts.Very easy to blame LFB(now that thought has been planted) when in fact the list of failings from Government,LCC,suppliers,contractors is as long as your arm.
Those Fire fighters were risking their lives without the knowledge that that Tower block(and over 70-odd others) was a ticking bomb they had no information on......or rather the information was incorrect as the building had not been refurbished up to the actual guidelines.
Shame on all those blaming them,especially the gutter press :x

Can't argue with any of that.

PS,what's betting the real perpetrators get of with it?
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RickH
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby RickH » 3 Nov 2019, 12:22am

I have wondered if the inside might have largely survived the cladding blaze if the rest of the building hadn't been compromised by other work.

reohn2
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby reohn2 » 3 Nov 2019, 12:25am

Just to add,I also believe the new window frames fitted during refurbishment of the block were UPVC which melted quite quickly,DG units fell out and in so doing the fire able to spread from apartment to apartment pretty rapidly as a result.
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Vorpal
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Vorpal » 3 Nov 2019, 7:28am

In the main, slowster's comments are sensible, and while it is not clear whether the inquiry looked at all of these things, they certainly should have done.


One thing not mentioned in the last couple of pages is that the watch commander when the fir began was a junior officer. It seems that he did not have either the experience or training to deal with such a large incident.
The BBC said this
"Supervisors were under the most enormous pressure, but the LFB had not provided its senior control room staff with appropriate training on how to manage a large-scale incident with a large number of FSG [Fire Survival Guidance] calls," he said.

"Mistakes made in responding to the Lakanal House fire were repeated," he added - referring to a fire in Camberwell, south London, in 2009, which killed three women and three children.


Pretty much every significant incident includes a variety of causes and contributory factors, including in emergency reponse. For the LFB commissioner to say that she would do nothing differently suggests that the organisation have nothing to learn from Grefell. That would be a tragedy in its own right, and one that will likely lead to future loss of life if not dealt with.
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