The Grenfell Tower Fire

JamesWhitehead

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The fact so many tower-blocks have been identified as vulnerable will not have gone unnoticed by evil-doers, at this time of heightened tensions. I fear that for some warped minds, the notion of another Grenfell event would be gratifying.

Maybe presentiments of this kind played a part in what sounds like a very hasty decision. :huh:

Meanwhile, nine blocks in Salford have been identified.

The plan there is to remove the cladding, regardless of the outcome of safety tests. Residents are alarmed, though there seems to be no immediate plan to evacuate them.
 
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Rosebud

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The fact so many tower-blocks have been identified as vulnerable will not have gone unnoticed by evil-doers, at this time of heightened tensions. I fear that for some warped minds, the notion of another Grenfell event would be gratifying.

Maybe presentiments of this kind played a part in what sounds like a very hasty decision. :huh:

Meanwhile, nine blocks in Salford have been identified.

The plan there is to remove the cladding, regardless of the outcome of safety tests. Residents are alarmed, though there seems to be no immediate plan to evacuate them.
This crossed my mind, as well. It isn't just terrorists who might do it either.

While I applaud K&C council for acquiring decent accommodation for the Grenfell victims, it isn't too much of a leap to imagine the more desperate (or unhinged) tenants of other rat-traps might think they could get moved if something similar happened to their block.
It was a known problem years ago in some of the less desirable estates in South London. Housing officers would warn prospective tenants that arson was considered to be making yourself homeless, so don't try it.
 

Quake42

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This crossed my mind, as well. It isn't just terrorists who might do it either.

While I applaud K&C council for acquiring decent accommodation for the Grenfell victims, it isn't too much of a leap to imagine the more desperate (or unhinged) tenants of other rat-traps might think they could get moved if something similar happened to their block.
It was a known problem years ago in some of the less desirable estates in South London. Housing officers would warn prospective tenants that arson was considered to be making yourself homeless, so don't try it.
This is, I think, a serious risk. If people get the idea that your current accommodation burning fine will result in a nicer flat and a no questions asked cash payment some will, no doubt, be tempted to make that happen.

Camden was indicating last night that the problem was not just cladding, but inadequate fire doors and something about gas pipes. We'll see.
 
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OneWingedBird

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Finally someone is saying it:

Hundreds of people died in the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Diane Abbott has claimed.


The current death toll is at 79 but the shadow Home Secretary said she expected this to rise into the hundreds.


The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington blamed the disaster on Conservative attitudes towards social housing.


"Grenfell House (sic) is not just an accident; Grenfell House is not just an unfortunate incident. Those hundreds of people that died is a direct consequence of Tory attitudes in social housing," Ms Abbott told a conference of the Labour Progress group.

She also added that she believes Tories see residents in social housing as "second-class citizens".

The fire, which tore into the 24-storey high-rise in Kensington, has left scores of people without homes.
Indie
 

Quake42

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Finally someone is saying it:



Indie
The reason that the Grenfell death toll may never be known is because no one really knew who was living there.

Subletting is rife in council properties, and some of the official tenants will not have lived anywhere near the block. They may even be living abroad. In this case those subletting will have done rather well financially, as the flats were being advertised for rent at over £2,000 a month.

Illegal subletting means that there are no constraints on how many people may be living on any particular flat.

The subletting issue has been rather tiptoed around by official sources. But it's pretty clear that this is why no one knows the full scale of the disaster.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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As in
http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls/2012/08/hotpoint-quadrio-fridge-freezer/ ??

Believe me, this is not the worst fault to happen with a fridge-freezer. Much worse would be the compressor motor overheating, catching fire, igniting the foam insulation, and a subsequent minor explosion of the coolant gas spreading the flames.

If your fridge is affected by the same weird power-cable-beside-the-hinge-fault what I would do is the following as an interim safety plan:
  • swap the 13A plug fuse for a 5A (accepting that it's better to have a few random fuse-blowings than a flaming fridge)
  • buy an additional cheap battery-powered smoke-detector, and fit near/above the fridge
  • buy a dry-powder or CO2 fire-extinguisher and fit near the fridge
  • If super-paranoid prudent, keep a bucket (or basin) of dry sand on a kitchen top in case of fizz-bang-pop
But be reassured that this fault sounds like an initiated fault (by opening the door), as opposed to a silent fault (a compressor going fritz at 2.45am).

Hotpoint are a good company. They'll sort you out....
Phoned Hotpoint earlier, quoting my fridge-freezer's model and serial number.
At first they denied that my Quadrio was one of those affected, and the guy was on the verge of hanging up on me. I insisted that I saw my model listed on the www.gov.com website.
They then said they had to consult with a manager, came back 5 minutes later, apologised and admitted that my appliance was potentially dangerous. Their advice was that, if it trips the electrics when you open the door, stop using it. They advised that a Hotpoint assessor will contact me within a month.
I didn't really sense much in the way of urgency from Hotpoint.
 
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Phoned Hotpoint earlier, quoting my fridge-freezer's model and serial number.
At first they denied that my Quadrio was one of those affected, and the guy was on the verge of hanging up on me. I insisted that I saw my model listed on the www.gov.com website.
They then said they had to consult with a manager, came back 5 minutes later, apologised and admitted that my appliance was potentially dangerous. Their advice was that, if it trips the electrics when you open the door, stop using it. They advised that a Hotpoint assessor will contact me within a month.
I didn't really sense much in the way of urgency from Hotpoint.
Maybe contact the local media regarding this? Publicity might get Hotpoint to take things more seriously.
 

Cavynaut

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This is, I think, a serious risk. If people get the idea that your current accommodation burning fine will result in a nicer flat and a no questions asked cash payment some will, no doubt, be tempted to make that happen
Not something that normal decent people would contemplate doing of course.

But then we already know your politics. Devil take the hindmost isn't it?
 

Quake42

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You can take the "we" part out as far as I'm concerned .. I've never asked Quake42 about her political beliefs ..
Thank you Swifty.

My earlier post: I refer solely to human nature. And yes, there will be a minority who will be tempted to destroy their current abode if they believe that by doing so they will get something better. And no doubt social holding providers around the country will be alert to that risk.
 

Swifty

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I own a large adjustable spanner ... I've christened him 'Mr Adjustable' because I've used him as a hammer, and for all sorts of things to fix things for me and other people ....

I used to live in a rental flat building in the midlands, the fire alarm was faulty and I constantly had to get up and out of bed for the fire engines to give us all the all clear that it was yet another false alarm .. no amount of complaining worked so after a year or two I snapped, went down stairs, smashed the **** out of the alarm box with 'Mr Adjustable' then went the next day to complain that a squatter had caused the damage .. result ! .. we got a new alarm system ! .. the owners lived in another country so couldn't give a shit up until that point .. (we used to cover up for the squatter, she'd moved out before this and is doing OK nowadays I've heard) ..

Irony time though, the week before I was going to move out, the new alarm system kicked off .. the building was genuinely almost on fire this time .. someone had left a machine on that caused smoke in a business inside the building ..
 

OneWingedBird

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Every sample of cladding tested so far has been found to be unsafe:

Cladding on 34 tower blocks in 17 council areas in England has failed fire safety tests, the government says.

The results mean every sample has failed the tests so far. The government plans to test up to 600 blocks.


The updated figures came as Camden became the first authority to evacuate residents over concerns, asking those living in four buildings to leave.

The council said it had no option but to move residents of 650 flats on the Chalcots estate while work takes place.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the residents had shown "calm and stoicism".

But he said cladding itself is not dangerous and a test failure does not necessarily mean a building will have to be evacuated.
BBC
 

JamesWhitehead

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Bethnal Green is a top floor fire but there is no indication in the story of how many floors there are!

Let us hope it is no more than a local and limited fire story given sudden topicality. :huh:

edit: The block is four storeys high, as some online references make clear.

No loss of life seems to be indicated.
 

Analogue Boy

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Not something that normal decent people would contemplate doing of course.

But then we already know your politics. Devil take the hindmost isn't it?
Making assumptions and snide remarks based on an individual's online comments is one of those things that's putting people off contributing to this site. The sock puppety likes don't help either.
 

Quake42

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Bethnal Green is a top floor fire but there is no indication in the story of how many floors there are!

Let us hope it is no more than a local and limited fire story given sudden topicality. :huh:

edit: The block is four storeys high, as some online references make clear.

No loss of life seems to be indicated.
That's right - lots of pictures on social media. Seems to have started in a top floor flat. No loss of life reported, although some hospitalised with smoke inhalation.
 

Cavynaut

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Making assumptions and snide remarks based on an individual's online comments is one of those things that's putting people off contributing to this site. The sock puppety likes don't help either.
I quite agree. If you stop it, then so will I.
 

smokehead

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I heard the police statement that neither they nor the Home Office are interested in immigration status. Establishing casualty figures and identities may be hindered by sub letting and missing may not automatically mean dead.
The issue if sub letting may get lost in the narrative, notoriously it has meant overcrowding and perhaps the death toll may have been less otherwise but I see no appetite for blaming the sub letters.
Meanwhile, the discovery of unsafe cladding on so many buildings suggests to me either a particularly rapacious building industry or the belief they were acting within the regulations.
My antenna went up when Philip Hammond said on the Andrew Marr show that he believed the type of cladding used to be illegal.
However a u-turn on school fire safety regulations also suggests a direction of travel.
 

Quake42

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I heard the police statement that neither they nor the Home Office are interested in immigration status. Establishing casualty figures and identities may be hindered by sub letting and missing may not automatically mean dead.
The issue if sub letting may get lost in the narrative, notoriously it has meant overcrowding and perhaps the death toll may have been less otherwise but I see no appetite for blaming the sub letters.
Meanwhile, the discovery of unsafe cladding on so many buildings suggests to me either a particularly rapacious building industry or the belief they were acting within the regulations.
My antenna went up when Philip Hammond said on the Andrew Marr show that he believed the type of cladding used to be illegal.
However a u-turn on school fire safety regulations also suggests a direction of travel.
Yeah. A few things:

  • I've spoken to my builder friend about this at length. He explained that on large scale projects such as this typically the builder does not choose the materials but is provided by the architect at the outset with a book setting out everything that is to be used. So unless something has gone seriously off piste the builder would not substitute dangerous materials for safe ones.
  • Similarly when councils sit down to consider bids on a contract it will be on the basis that all the proposals will by necessity involve the use of legal materials. The rather hysterical characterisation of councils as deliberately installing dangerous cladding to save money simply isn't how it works.
  • Incidentally my builder mate also tells me that Celotex - the company providing the cladding in the Grenfell case - is the main provider of insulation materials for the construction industry, so this could be a major issue.
  • And yes, Hammond seemed very definitive that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was not legal in the UK. I don't think he would have spoken in that way had there been any doubt.
  • The issue of subletting needs to be tackled, but it should perhaps be decoupled from the Grenfell inquiry.
 

smokehead

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The inquiry may find it difficult then to establish whether or not it was simply a supply chain error.
Alternative cheaper cladding may have been sourced under the assumption it conformed to existing regulations. Proving that assumption was based on wilful or genuine ignorance may be difficult. I don't know, but doubt the kind of testing now going on was done at any stage.
You are right perhaps that sub letting should be a separate issue, on the grounds of sensitivity at least.
My concern is that a nice little earner will actually create the callous indifference to human life the government, council and building industry are currently being accused of. Responsibility for overcrowding immigrants in a death trap relies less on authority and more on personal morality, and that is something of a mixed bag.
 
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The inquiry may find it difficult then to establish whether or not it was simply a supply chain error.
Alternative cheaper cladding may have been sourced under the assumption it conformed to existing regulations. Proving that assumption was based on wilful or genuine ignorance may be difficult.
Like I said before, cost pressure will have likely have been applied causing cheaper (unapproved) materials to be sourced. I'll bet you'll find no evidence of anything else.

They'll be warnings from the professional builders/engineers involved, some in writing. There'll almost certainly be nothing showing wilful negligence was involved, in the sense that "someone asked for cheaper stuff to be used even if it doesn't meet the standards".
 

Quake42

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Like I said before, cost pressure will have likely have been applied causing cheaper (unapproved) materials to be sourced. I'll bet you'll find no evidence of anything else.

They'll be warnings from the professional builders/engineers involved, some in writing. There'll almost certainly be nothing showing wilful negligence was involved, in the sense that "someone asked for cheaper stuff to be used even if it doesn't meet the standards".
The cladding on this - and many other blocks - came from a well-known construction material company. This sounds like a problem with the manufacture not secret plans by councils to use dangerous materials.

The cladding met building regs or it did not. If it did, then there's a problem with the regs. If it did not, then it suggests a problem with the manufacture.
 

ChrisBoardman

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Freaked out by the video where someone turns their light on and of repeatedly. They were right at the top, the place was totally ablaze, way above where fire crews could help.
 

Analogue Boy

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So far all cladding tested has failed fire safety tests.
Jesus. They may as well have just housed families in a Wicker Man.
 

Quake42

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So far all cladding tested has failed fire safety tests.
Jesus. They may as well have just housed families in a Wicker Man.
Not looking good, is it. The attempted politicisation of the Grenfell tragedy is looking even dafter - clearly there is a systemic fire safety issue.
 

Cavynaut

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Maybe you could lead by example.

Or at least try playing the ball not the man.
You are, of course, entirely entitled to pull me up on this, and I would like to offer my unequivocal and utterly sincere apologies for my post. Should a moderator wish to remove the offending post, then I would be in absolute agreement.

What I should have replied, to your post which I am repeating here...

"This is,I think, a serious risk. If people get the idea that your current accommodation burning fine (sic) will result in a nicer flat and a no questions asked cash payment some will, no doubt, be tempted to make that happen."

...is...

There is also the possibility that people who have a financial interest in destroying council housing in high value areas in order to fast forward social cleansing and the subsequent awarding of juicy redevelopment contracts might just be tempted to facilitate events in order to make that happen.

Rachmann might have died, but his philosophy is alive and kicking.
 

stu neville

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So far all cladding tested has failed fire safety tests.
Jesus. They may as well have just housed families in a Wicker Man.
Well, as I said several pages ago, the stuff used in Bristol when they were clad 20 years ago is definitely flame-retardent (I saw the test with my own eyes - a blowtorch just made it blacken and smoulder after minutes of flame.)

That was 20 years ago, and a lot of the blocks in Bristol are now being redone. Housing Managers, the Mayor himself and fire service have been around reassuring residents that the replacement cladding is safe. The (usually hopeless) Bristol Post investigated two blocks near the M5 and reported:
...We conducted out our own (very unscientific) test on a piece of insulation thrown into a skip at the site in Shirehampton. It smoldered, melted and gave off nasty smoke, but it was hard to get it to catch light..

----
The concrete outer walls of the towers were being covered with polystyrene insulation which were then clad with render in some places and brick slips (veneers) made of acrylic or clay in others.

Is it the same as Grenfell?

There are some crucial differences. Sedgewick House and Barwick House do not use aluminium composite material (ACM) – to cover the polystyrene insulation. The ACM is what is thought to have caught fire at Grenfell.

Contractors have not left a gap between the concrete wall and the polystyrene in the two Bristol towers. These air gaps are thought to have acted as ‘chimneys’ at Grenfell, allowing flames to quickly travel up the side of the building.

Firebreaks made of non-flammable ‘mineral fibre’ have also been installed between floors to stop flames spreading up the side of the building like they did in London...
So the reportage is concentrating - understandably - om the scale of potentially dangerous installations, but doesn't appear to acknowledge that the problem is far from universal.

You are right perhaps that sub letting should be a separate issue, on the grounds of sensitivity at least.
My concern is that a nice little earner will actually create the callous indifference to human life the government, council and building industry are currently being accused of. Responsibility for overcrowding immigrants in a death trap relies less on authority and more on personal morality, and that is something of a mixed bag.
Sub-letting is a massive issue for any landlord, especially social ones. Worst I ever saw (mid-90s) was a three bed semi, ostensibly let to a family of five, which actually had 20-25 people living in it, all illegals, each paying around £50 a week to live there. Over a grand a week to the official tenant, who paid (IIRC) £75 a week rent. This was a Housing Assoc property by the way: they tend to have more isolated properties in otherwise mixed-ownership areas. Council properties are better policed than that, so whilst sub-letting still happens a lot it's less about overcrowding and more about tenancy conditions.
 
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