June 22, 2020
Posted by FMC Network
Grenfell. 3 Years on.
Last week marked the 3 year anniversary of the tragic Grenfell disaster. Exactly a year ago, I wrote an article outlining the problems high rise towers still face in having practically zero fire protection. What, if anything has changed since then?
After the tragedy, prime minister at the time Theresa May promised a full investigation into the fire which ultimately led to findings meaning all cladding not up to industry standard would be removed. Unfortunately, the government has spent less than a quarter of what it promised to replace life threatening cladding, leaving over 275 high rise buildings still not fixed and safe to live in.
The government pledged £400m in Spring of 2018 to remove social housing towers of aluminium composite material (ACM) panels similar to those which spread the fire at Grenfell Tower in West London, but only £130m has been spent so far. Furthermore, there's estimated to a further 1,700 buildings with cladding made from other materials which could be unsafe.
A further £200m was then promised in May 2019 to fix private blocks, however only £1.4m has been spent and only 14% of the affected buildings have been fully fixed, according to the government figures. On the three year anniversary of the Grenfell fire, survivors have rightly said they feel "left behind" and "disgusted" by a lack of progress in making other buildings safe.
Another extremely disturbing piece of evidence that has recently been revealed states that the company that made the cladding knew in 2011 they were “not suitable for use on building facades”, and the fire engineers on the project knew that the cladding would fail in the event of a fire. If this was known back in 2011, who's responsibility would it have been to make changes before a fire of this magnitude took place? You would think looking at this with hindsight, changes would have been immediately, but as we've learnt there are still many buildings with over 56,000 inhabitants in total, which are potentially dangerous deathtraps just waiting to ignite.
Over the past few months government officials has stated that COVID-19 has "slowed the progress" of cladding removal. The inquiry has been paused since March because of the coronavirus pandemic and is due to restart on July 6th.
Do you think that COVID-19 is an acceptable enough reason to why this essential work is still yet to be carried out? Why was the work not carried out previous to the pandemic? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts below on the handling of both the inquiry and the measures not taken so far in making high rise buildings a safe place to live.
by RYAN EVANS
FMC Network - Fire & Security Specialist