On 14th June 2017 at around 1 am, a fire believed to be started accidentally in a fridge-freezer on the fourth floor, engulfed Grenfell Tower in North Kensington. The fire rapidly accelerated through the building’s exterior cladding, which is of a common type and in widespread use.
It burned for about 60 hours until finally being extinguished. More than 250 London Fire Brigade firefighters and 70 fire engines were involved from stations all across London in efforts to control the fire. Over 100 London Ambulance Service crews on at least 20 ambulances attended.
223 people escaped the building but 71 people lost their lives and over 70 were injured. London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said “Those who mock health and safety, regulations and red tape need to take a hard look at the consequences of cutting these and ask themselves whether Grenfell Tower is a price worth paying. Nowadays, we would not dream of building towers to the standards of the 1970s, but their inhabitants still have to live with that legacy. It may well be the defining outcome of this tragedy that the worst mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s are systematically torn down.”
In the days after the fire, local authorities across the United Kingdom undertook reviews of fire safety in their residential tower blocks. There are estimated to be about 600 high-rise blocks of flats in the UK that have similar cladding. By 28 June 2017, 120 high-rise buildings in 37 different local authority areas were reported to have failed fire safety tests, a 100% failure rate of samples tested. Councils had been instructed to begin with those buildings that caused the most concern, and every single one of those had failed the test.
In a change to the publicised speaker, Keith Scott, Director of Resident Safety at London Borough of Camden will discuss the changes made post Grenfell and the process of improvement Camden have made to Resident Safety. We will meet in RN145, West College Scotland on 13th June at 2pm.