Fire experts single out catastrophic Grenfell safety failures

Aaron Morby 10 months ago
Share

Expert evidence at the Grenfell Inquiry has revealed a litany of failings that led to the tower being rapidly engulfed in flames.

In a particularly damning report Arup fire expert Dr Barbara Lane described a culture of non compliance at Grenfell with led to the catastrophic rapid spread of the fire, causing 72 deaths.

Lane suggests that reconfigured replacement windows in the building allowed the fire in flat 16 to escape to non-compliant combustible cladding panels and insulation which was “substantially to blame for the tragedy”.

Experts told the inquiry, the uPVC window frames appeared to have melted, exposing combustible materials plugging the cavity between the new windows and building exterior within them.

This allowed the fire to escape from the fourth floor flat igniting the flammable core of the rainscreen cladding outside and spreading rapidly across the tower.

Within 30 minutes the blaze had spread from the flat to the top of the tower.

Lane concluded that most of the fire doors at the entrance to the 120 flats had been replaced in 2011 but neither they or the original doors still left in place complied with fire test evidence.

This allowed fire to spread rapidly within the building through several entry points from the exterior.

Lifts at Grenfell failed to perform effectively, hindering the transportation of firefighting equipment and creating an unnecessary risk to residents who could not use it to escape.

The stairwell, the only escape route in the tower, became clogged with smoke and ventilation systems in communal areas were overwhelmed by the extent of the fire.

She also recommends full-scale testing of rain screen cladding systems going forward including window openings and fixtures and fittings rather than simple strict compliance with the current BS8414 arrangements.

Lane writes: “I have found no evidence yet that any member of the design team or the construction team ascertained the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding system materials, nor understood how the assembly performed in fire.

“I have found no evidence that Building Control were either informed or understood how the assembly performed in fire.

“Further, I have found no evidence that the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation risk assessment recorded the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding system, nor have I found evidence that the London Fire Brigade risk assessment recorded the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding system.”

“I await further evidence of these matters, which I will explore in my Phase two report.”

The outline of the failures was revealed yesterday as the public inquiry, which is expected to last 18 months, turned to the cause and spread of the fire.

More detailed evidence about the failings of the refit will be revealed in coming weeks.

Latest news

Kier slumps to £35.5m loss as problem contracts continue

Workloads wobbling in highways, utilities and housing maintenance markets
10 hours ago

Griffiths to restart Dawnus £14m Swansea road job

Welsh civils firm to take on Kingsway city centre scheme
4 hours ago

Hunt for £6bn Meridian Water phase 2 developer

Up to 250 affordable homes to be built in Meridian Two scheme
9 hours ago

BBC construction skills blasted over EastEnders set woes

Lack of project management skills leads to £27m cost over-run and five-year delay
8 hours ago

Go-ahead for £175m Cumbrian deep coal mine

Plans advance for Britain's first deep coal mine for 30 years
18 hours ago

Hi Vis site wear launched for pregnant women

Clothing designed to make life safer and more comfortable "from bump to baby"
10 hours ago

Speedy buys powered access hirer for £9.6m

Lifterz deal allows Speedy to offer nationwide powered access equipment hire
10 hours ago

Build to rent specialist plans Bolton urban village

Placefirst to use in-house contractor for £27.5m scheme
11 hours ago

Water winners revealed for £2bn Severn Trent spend

More contractors win first lots on AMP7 as client revamps working practices
1 day ago

Stranded Carillion chief takes helm at Kier

Andrew Davies named new Kier chief executive
1 day ago

Interserve £170m prison project to be rebid

Ministry of Justice confirms Glen Parva to be tendered as a publicly funded project
1 day ago

Cabinet Office promises Interserve subbies will get paid

Parliamentary Secretary makes pledge in House of Commons debate
1 day ago

Sir Robert McAlpine commercial director exits

Martin Pitt steps down from board after four years at group
1 day ago

Lakehouse subbies plan showdown with Sureserve bosses

Suppliers owed millions to demand answers at company AGM
2 days ago

Tolent to build first homes at £400m Leeds scheme

Builder gets foot in the door with prototype homes for Kirkstall Forge
1 day ago

Boost your online presence – join the Enquirer Directory

New site for suppliers and buyers showcases products, services and latest stories
11 months ago

Interserve subcontractors told it’s business as usual

Outsourcers circle Interserve support services division
2 days ago

Morgan Sindall wins 20-year Sellafield civils deal

Four teams named for Sellafield decommissioning project partnership
2 days ago

Hunt for quartet to deliver £700m Birmingham Uni pipeline

University is preparing to deliver phase two of its estate masterplan
2 days ago

Stepnell wins £14m Northampton Vulcan works redevelopment

Historic factory to be refurbished for business start-ups
2 days ago

Hunt starts for developer on £200m South Shields scheme

South Tyneside Council looking for housing partner and remediation specialist
2 days ago

Revamp plans for Birmingham Moor Street station unveiled

Transfer deck across the top of station will connect to all platforms
2 days ago

Interserve workers told to report for work as usual

Interserve subsidiaries to trade solvently as PLC business pre-packed
5 days ago

Interserve to file for administration as rescue rejected

Shareholders vote down rescue plan
5 days ago

Dawnus Group goes into administration

Grant Thornton now in charge of contractor which employed 700 staff
5 days ago

Bricklayer killed by collapsing wall

Court hands out £900,000 fine but contractor went into administration six months after tragedy
5 days ago

Dawnus collapse a “Welsh Carillion”

Subcontractors braced for huge losses as administrators poised to take control
5 days ago

Taylor Woodrow losses halve Vinci UK profits

Building operations trade profitably but Taylor Woodrow suffers fifth year in the red
5 days ago

Plans in for £70m Edinburgh botanic garden revamp

New glasshouse features in major overhaul plan
5 days ago

Mace to steer £350m Stevenage town centre revamp

Work set to begin on site next year
5 days ago

Contractor services