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Grenfell Tower Block
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grufty jim
grufty jim
1940 posts

Re: Grenfell Tower Block
Jul 03, 2017, 12:49
I've talked to my wife about this a few times over the past weeks. She's quite uniquely qualified to comment on it (certainly a lot more than me!) She's an architect who spent some time as a fire-safety specialist.

Also -- her apartment (in a high-rise block) was gutted by fire when she was a kid. So it's something she's looked at from most perspectives.

She's way too professional to make any definitive statements without knowing all the facts; but she's very clear about one thing -- this should never have happened. Building materials and safety standards for high-rise blocks (certainly in Europe) are focused on preventing exactly this kind of thing (the spread of fire from one unit to another).

And they work. If adhered to.

An appliance fire in one apartment should never be capable of spreading to the next apartment in less than a certain time period.

4-hour fire-rated walls do exist (as you mentioned). Apparently the way it works, though, is that usually the higher the building, the higher the fire-rating. My wife can't speak to UK regulations specifically. But based on best-practice elsewhere, she suggests a 90-minute rating would be the bare minimum for a block like Grenfell.

The fire spread much faster than that. There was clearly a catastrophic failure of the building's fire safety features. Whether that was the external cladding, or something else... or some combination of factors... we'll need a proper inquiry to discover the truth.

But someone (or someones) screwed up badly here. There are systems in place to make sure this can't happen, and when they fail it is almost always because someone cut corners somewhere. Of course there are exceptions -- and maybe this will be one of them -- but odds are there are people out there right now who are getting very quiet legal advice.

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