Tower Block Disaster

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merseymouth
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby merseymouth » 7 Nov 2019, 8:40am

Morning all, I think folk will have to be careful how they make demands for answers over the awful tragedy that is Grenfell Tower!
Answers are certainly needed, with total candour. But when they meet the inevitable stonewall of cover-up they may receive the same branding as Liverpool got over Hillsborough - "Pity City"?
In fairness when Bojo made a silly, offensive comment over the affair I wrote to him. I gut a full & frank apology for his thoughtless throwaway remark!
TFN MM

reohn2
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby reohn2 » 7 Nov 2019, 9:24am

merseymouth wrote:JRM may appear tactless, but he surely is not the one who should be brought to account?

He could've simply said "I'm not qualified to give an opinion on why LFB's policy was to stay put,or if those people made to right decision in the circumstances"
But no,being the rich idiot he is he doesn't know when to shut up,which is then followed up by the utter crass statement made by Bridgen.

When one considers how long it took for the truth to come out after Hillsborough might not the same apply here? Cover up is not beyond the realms of those who should fear the full facts being revealed, not just discovered, warts and all, no hiding behind confidentiality walls.
Those who sadly did not have a life after closing their front door deserve it. For too long in too many instances truths have been buried, errors repeated. MM

One hope's the the case of the 96 casts a long shadow over such attempted cover ups,I certainly hope so.
Last edited by reohn2 on 7 Nov 2019, 9:32am, edited 1 time in total.
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reohn2
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby reohn2 » 7 Nov 2019, 9:31am

francovendee wrote:......The second part, is in my view more serious. The refurbishment of this block was planned and during this planning selection of materials, methods and contractors would have been discussed at great length by 'experts'. This wasn't a time limited exercise and failure in this area is far more worrying to me.

And let's not forget that the residents of Grenfell Tower expressed grave concern about the building's refurbishment in that respect.
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Vorpal
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Vorpal » 7 Nov 2019, 12:13pm

merseymouth wrote:1) If large commercial have to have repeater alarms on each floor, does that mean that Grenfell Tower was so equipped? (2) Why if a building only has a single evacuation route, in this instance the central stair way, why was no sprinkler system mandated? As has been posed by others that could well have suppressed the smoke.
There were no audible/visual fire alarms in Grenfell. They are not required in high rise apartment buildings partly because of the 'stay put' advice. Fire alarms systems instead notify either the fire department, or a private firm that makes an evaluation about whether it requires a response. Sprinkler systems, in some cases make smoke worse, rather than suppressing it. Sprinkler systems in the apartments might have been appropriate. Alternative ways out of the building (e.g. deployable escape chutes) might have been appropriate. A smoke suppression system for the stairwell might have been appropriate. Independent emergency lighting in the stairwell might have been appropriate.
merseymouth wrote:(3) Why if an area has high rise buildings in it's housing plan were High Reach Appliances not within the emergency service's range of appliances?

I think it quite likely that one or more people within the service had pointed this out over the years, & it got lost in the noise of heirarchy, management decisions, funding priorities, etc. If the enquiry is throrough, they will be able to answer this. At least, it is being addressed, now. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/h ... 42431.html
merseymouth wrote:(4) Why does the LFB believe that it's action plan for such an eventuality was "Fit For Purpose"?

Like most such things, nothing had every seriously challenged this view. It's rather like people thinking they are good drivers because they've never had a crash.

merseymouth wrote:What I think might be valid about the JRM comments is as to why the fire was allowed to progress for as long as it did before LFB questioned it's own plan, time is always a major factor in the prevention of death occurring? Had I and my family been in such a situation I would have defied the advice given, after all flight from danger is a basic instinct!
JRM may appear tactless, but he surely is not the one who should be brought to account?
When one considers how long it took for the truth to come out after Hillsborough might not the same apply here? Cover up is not beyond the realms of those who should fear the full facts being revealed, not just discovered, warts and all, no hiding behind confidentiality walls.
Those who sadly did not have a life after closing their front door deserve it. For too long in too many instances truths have been buried, errors repeated. MM

Some folks *did* ignore official advice, and evacuate. Other folks tried to, and retreated to their apartments because they were unable to find a route, and/or could not breathe in the hallway. Yet others probably made it part way out before they were overcome, injured, or became lost and confused in the smoke and darkness. Also, you have to remember that many of these folks weren't just told to stay put. They were told to await rescue. And keep in mind that some residents were likely unable to evacuate themselves because of disability or other issues.

The problem with a government official saying what Rees-Mogg said is that he has implied that he is more clever than the folks who died in the fire. The follow-on from that is that they deserved it. When his mates double down, it sounds elitist and arrogant.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

pwa
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby pwa » 7 Nov 2019, 12:27pm

The central question remains the same: how did it come to be that a high rise block of flats was clad in combustible materials. If I had been bolting those panels onto that structure I would have needed some convincing that they could not burn. The contents of those panels scream the word "fuel" at you. I would have expected extreme testing of those panels before putting them on such a tall structure. Even before this event I saw similar materials being used to insulate two storey council houses and wondered about fire. As a layperson with no specialist knowledge that struck me. I would have been horrified if I had known something similar was being used above that height.

The other apparent failings matter, but for me they are just a little less difficult to understand. Yes, the Stay Put policy looks very ill-advised now and it probably should have been revised or replaced before, but like all publicly funded bodies the Fire Brigade will have been struggling to get the basic day to day stuff done for a decade or so, and in that environment important longer term things get neglected. It isn't right and it isn't acceptable but I do kind of understand how that sort of lapse happens.

merseymouth
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby merseymouth » 7 Nov 2019, 5:32pm

Hello again, One simple question I would love the more knowledgeable of our posters to answer is this - How long was it between the alarm being raised and LFB changing it's collective mind over the "Stay Put" Policy?
I thank Vorpal for her comments about alarms etc, but it does seem strange that something like a multi-storey office block and a residential block should be different!
Maybe now is the time to put safety in first place on all new developments, then strive to do retrospective safety upgrades to all existing properties.
If one goes back to the major fire in an apartment store in Blackpool it was proved that foam in furniture was a major factor in the number of deaths, not being burnt to death but poisoned, so foam in furniture had to be fire resistant. Yet even today one can still find furniture that is non-compliant, including imported items! Will we ever learn?
With building materials we must have scrupulous enforcement of existing and updated regulations, with no more dodgy Building Inspectors, greed again! MM

Bonefishblues
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Bonefishblues » 7 Nov 2019, 7:55pm


merseymouth
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby merseymouth » 7 Nov 2019, 8:31pm

Thank you Bonefish Blues, Very helpful time line.
The half hour safety cushion may well have given an opportunity to fully evacuate the building something that I hope the Public Enquiry will clarify?
Maybe all high rise residential building should have alarms installed by Law? Sprinklers would also surely have helped??
Better wet than dead! MM

slowster
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby slowster » 7 Nov 2019, 10:48pm

merseymouth wrote:Sprinklers would also surely have helped??

They might have made the difference between a fire that was so minor that it would never have even made the local news, and what actually happened.

But - and this is really important - even if sprinklers had been installed and had controlled that particular fire, the potential for what happened would still exist in Grenfell Tower and probably many other blocks of flats, and it would only be a matter of time and luck before a fire started in/on one of those blocks of flats which the sprinklers would not be able to control, and we would all instead be talking about the XYZ Tower instead of Grenfell Tower.

One of the main reasons for this are that sprinkler systems cannot control fires on the outside of buildings. The only way a sprinkler system would have made a difference in Grenfell Tower would have been if it had controlled the fire at an early stage immediately after the fridge-freezer started to burn, i.e. by the activation of probably no more than one sprinkler head in that room. Because that is how sprinklers are designed to work - by controlling the fire at a very early stage with only a small number of sprinkler heads being triggered, and with consequently only a small amount of water needed.

Once the fire spread to the external cladding, any sprinkler sytem would have been of very limited benefit, because the fire spread up the outside of the building so quickly and then through windows into so many other flats, that no sprinkler system would be able to deliver enough water at enough pressure to the sprinkler heads in all the flats where the fire had spread.

So even if the particular fire had not happened at Grenfell because a sprinkler system had been installed and controlled it at a very early stage, it would only be a matter of time and luck before there was a different set of circumstances resulting in a fire in Grenfell or one of other the blocks of flats with similar combustible cladding; one which a sprinkler system would not successfully control, e.g. because the fridge was next to the window and the fire spread to the cladding before the sprinkler head in that room controlled the fire, or because the fire started in an external waste bin outside the building and spread from there directly to the cladding.

Sprinkler sytems are extremely effective, but the danger is that people, including regulators and local authorities, end up relying too much on them, and assuming that it's OK to accept or overlook things which increase the risk, like combustible cladding, single stairwells, breached fire compartmentation, poor building management etc. A very small percentage of sprinkler systems fail, usually because of human error. Ironically systems installed in residential properties are more likely to fail than those in commercial buildings, because it's harder to manage and oversee the systems. For example, it's not unknown for residents to use the isolation valve in their flat to turn the sprinklers off in their flat, e.g. because builders or decorators are doing work in the flat and the risk of accidental discharge is high, and they don't turn them back on when the work is finished. Or some people turn them off permanently because they don't want their property to get damaged by water if there is a leak or accidental discharge.

Sprinkler systems require regular testing and maintenance, which requires competent people to be employed, which is a major commitment and undertaking, which needs to be properly resourced with proper training.

Focus on just sprinklers or just the cladding, and you are likely simply to see more unnecessary loss of life in the future, because managing fire safety in high rise buildings involves a lot of factors, all of which need to be addressed, rather than relying on just a single magic bullet like sprinklers.

merseymouth
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby merseymouth » 8 Nov 2019, 8:44am

Hi Slowster, But the 64 thousand dollar question is - Would sprinklers have given sufficient time to evacuate all in safety, with life saving at the core? MM

Vorpal
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Vorpal » 8 Nov 2019, 9:00am

merseymouth wrote:Hi Slowster, But the 64 thousand dollar question is - Would sprinklers have given sufficient time to evacuate all in safety, with life saving at the core? MM

As slowster said, the only way sprinklers would have helped is if they extinguished the fire before it spread. Once it was on the outside of the building, sprinklers would have made little or no difference. It may even have made things worse, filling apartments with smoke when sprinklers systems turned on, trying to extinguish a fire that was out of control.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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slowster
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby slowster » 8 Nov 2019, 11:41am

merseymouth wrote:Hi Slowster, But the 64 thousand dollar question is - Would sprinklers have given sufficient time to evacuate all in safety, with life saving at the core? MM

Either sprinklers control the fire at its very earliest stages with no more than a few heads being activated in a building like Grenfell Tower, and the Fire Brigade turn up and make sure the fire is out (for which they probably need nothing more than a portable fire extinguisher), in which event there's no point in a full evacuation, or if there is rapid fire spread to a large area/large number of flats as happened at Grenfell, then so many heads will be activated that the amount of water coming from them and the pressure will be so low that they will have no effect on the fire.

In other words sprinkler systems are either incredibly effective and control a fire very early with just a small amount of water, or they rapidly fail and make pretty much no difference to the fire. There is no halfway house: they will not provide a partial benefit.

Postboxer
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Postboxer » 11 Nov 2019, 6:36pm

I saw a video on a documentary years ago where the residents of one floor of a high rise block, possibly in the USA, had demanded sprinklers to be fitted. Then there was a fire, spreading up the inside of the building, the sprinklers did stop the spread.

The problem is next time there's a fire in a similar high rise block to Grenfell, everyone is going to evacuate as quickly as they can, even if the fire brigade are telling people to stay in their flats, JRM has given the go ahead to ignore any advice from any of the emergency services, so long as you think you know better. I fear that there may be deaths caused by the rush of people escaping in such a situation, that many people all rushing down one stairwell.

reohn2
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby reohn2 » 26 Jan 2020, 12:23am

A small step in thenright direction:- https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51252297
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francovendee
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby francovendee » 26 Jan 2020, 8:46am

I just wonder why more checks aren't made on the inquiry panellists but the links Benita Mehra had with the cladding company should have ruled her out as a candidate right from the start.