Saturday, 24 June 2017

Grenfell Tower: some writings

These are a set of sensibly written and essentially non-partisan pieces on the Grenfell disaster. I feel it's necessary to do this so we get away from wanting everybody's head on a stick before we've got to grips with what actually happened. This matters to me because I'm on the board of a housing association with 30 or so high rise blocks.

Airlines show safety and profit go hand in hand. Let's not learn the wrong lessons from Grenfell.
"The aviation industry may be highly competitive but it is also tightly regulated and permeated by a culture that views safety as paramount. Such is the sector’s success that a report last year found that the number of annual fatalities almost halved over two decades while the number of global flight hours more than doubled"
Grenfell Tower fire: Should this cladding be allowed?

From the technical editor of Building Magazine - so may be better informed than some commentary.
The terrible and sudden spread of the fire at the west London tower this week has raised questions about whether ACM cladding should be permitted on high-rise residential towers
Is Grenfell Tower a monument to the death of the ethos of public service?

Tessa Shepperson at Landlord Law Blog knows here stuff - this is a little polemical but raises some interesting points such as one that is a warning for Tenant Management Organisations:
There seems to be a general tenancy nowadays, in all fields, for people to disrespect knowledge and experience and assume that people with no knowledge and no experience can – with advice – do as good a job as the experts.
Tenants are just tenants, they aren't buildings management experts.

To blame “Evil Tories” is to miss the point spectacularly…

In which we learn that regulation of privately rented properties is quite a bit stricter than that of state housing:
A programme of inspections takes place to tackle high-risk HMOs to ensure that means of escape and adequate fire safety measures are in place and to identify unlicensed HMOs.

There is an overlapping fire safety responsibility between the Council and the London Fire Brigade (LFB). Owners are required to carry out a fire risk assessment and make an emergency plan. The fire risk assessment is a systematic examination of the premises to identify the hazards from fire which must be recorded.

The Grenfell High-Rise Fire: A Litany of Failures?

From Wendell Cox in New Geography - so a US perspective:
Worse, in a larger sense, the Grenfell fire may turn out to be one of the world's great planning disasters.

And from blogger Tim Newman:
I have no idea what the philosophy was in the Grenfell Tower, but it should have been to get everyone out ASAP in the event of a fire: you hear the alarm, everyone evacuates, the firemen turn up to see what’s what. From what I’m hearing, people believed they should stay in their apartments because the flats were designed to contain fires, or something like that. Even if they were designed to contain fires, you should still evacuate. Yes, it’s a pain in the arse standing in the carpark in your pyjamas at 1am, but it’s better than burning to death.
Suggests there's a need to review fire safety advice (staying put is pretty standard advice)

Or another well-informed blogger, Raedwald:
Around 6am, 5am UK time, last Wednesday morning I started watching Grenfell Tower burning. It was clear from the footage that the fire progressed on the outside of the building. "Cladding" I said to my plumber. A bit of digging about found the portfolio pics on the website of Studio E architects, of Tooley Street; they confirmed that an aluminium sandwich panel was specified.
There's still a way to go on this disaster. One thing that needs some urgent attention is the lack of preparedness from the Council. This echoes for us in Bradford since the Council completely failed in its response to serious flooding on Boxing Day 2015 - less serious for sure but a failure nonetheless. Is this pretty standard for Councils? Are we not ready for disaster - whether its a big fire, a flood, an outbreak of disease or a hurricane?


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