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Grenfell Tower fire: everything we know

Grenfell Tower

Many professionals within the construction industry would say that the tragedy that took place on 14th June at Grenfell Tower was an accident waiting to happen. A series of catastrophic events lead to the high-rise building being completely engulfed in flames within only 15 minutes as the fire climbed from the 4th floor to the 24th floor with ease. A public inquiry and a criminal investigation were immediately launched to establish who was at fault, and to understand what went wrong.

 

Grenfell Tower

The source of the fire was established to be a Hotpoint fridge-freezer that was in one of the flats on the 4th floor which combusted and as a result, it was concluded that the fire was not a deliberate act. Even though household appliances are common causes of fires, it is unimaginable that one fridge fire could set an entire high rise building on fire so quickly especially, since tower blocks are designed so that fires stay contained within individual flats which in this case, clearly did not happen.

Grenfell Tower

Very quickly the £8.6m refurbishment of the tower block which took place in May last year came under investigation with the new cladding being carefully examined. The cladding had a metal outer core and a foam inner core made of polyethylene – which is less fireproof than other cladding materials however, this core should still be fire resistant.

Experts now believe that the cavity behind the cladding acted in a similar way to a chimney, with the fire being drawn upwards which is what allowed it to spread so quickly. However, this should not have happened so fire investigators are currently looking at whether fire barriers were placed behind the cladding as without them, the fire had nothing to stop it.

 

Grenfell Tower

Since the fire at Grenfell tower, all tower blocks in the UK have had their cladding tested and it was revealed that a staggering 181 blocks in 15 different areas of the UK have failed fire safety tests. This highlights quite sufficiently that even though these contractors are abiding by current regulations and laws in regard to fire safety, it clearly just isn’t enough.

Rydon – the contractors who refurbished the tower last May said that their work “met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards”. If this is true then it seems correct to predict much tighter regulations and laws in regard to fire safety, coming into force in the next 6-8 months.

It has recently come to light that the criminal investigation might now be considering individual manslaughter charges as well as corporate ones. Officers investigating the fire have said that there is a possibility of individual examples of misconduct and health and safety breaches. This comes as members of the public and those who were victims of the fire are dissatisfied with the information being given to them.

It has also been revealed that 80% of those who were affected by the fire have still not been rehomed over 3 months on from the fire and only 5 families have been permanently rehomed. As a result, a further £5.5m is to be given to the families that were affected as 153 households are in hotels and 41 families are in temporary accommodation. The criminal investigation is still taking place and the official death toll is still unknown.