The Grenfell Tower Fire

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Can't help commenting on the irony (of the pots and kettles brand) of rapper Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo (aka. "Stormzy") coming over all righteous and branding Leadebut r of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg "an actual piece of shit" who should resign, for saying it is common sense to evacuate a building that's on fire.

This is the same rapper who is on record referring to gay people as "f*cking fags" :

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/nov/22/stormzy-apologises-for-unearthed-homophobic-tweets

and whose vile lyrics glorify gun-crime and knifings ("Yeah, yo / Call me Gunshot Mike or Mr Skeng ").

Personally, I feel Rees-Mogg should have left Grenfell well alone. Some subjects are understandably so sensitive that you're forever treading on eggshells, but being criticised by the likes of "Stormzy" just goes beyond irony!
I don't think much of Rees-Mogg but Stormzy isn't best placed to criticise him.
 
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Do many people really think that the Grenfell victims are to blame for their own deaths? Wow.
I doubt it.
The fact remains though that those who did the sensible thing by ignoring the LFB's catastrophic advice and left the building survived, whereas those who shut their doors and stayed put died.
 

escargot

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Mr R-M said what many people think and gets told off for having the nerve to come out and actually say it. It's a very touchy subject.
He's applying hindsight. Not a good idea in the circumstances.

For one thing, residents didn't know how bad the fire was until, in many cases, it was too late.

I expect there were several small fires or false alarms or even 'prank' alarms a year. Residents wouldn't be able to tell the difference early on

Who wants to troop outside half-dressed at night for nothing? Especially if you're up early for work next day or have children or suffer mobility problems. After the first few times you've done that for nothing you'd think twice.

Then there's the Fire Brigade advice which was to stay put and wait for further instructions or rescue. They're the experts, you'd listen to them. If it turned out to be a false alarm or small fire you'd be glad you did.
 

Victory

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Hard to know what common sense is in response to a tower block fire.

If you believe that by leaving your flat you will have to exit via 15 floors of an unlit stairwell, full of thick acrid smoke, and falling ceilings, and pieces of debris....then common sense might be to stay in your flat, try to block any space around the front door with wet towels, and hope that fire brigade members with breathing apparatus, axes and torches come to rescue you.
 

maximus otter

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Hard to know what common sense is in response to a tower block fire.

If you believe that by leaving your flat you will have to exit via 15 floors of an unlit stairwell, full of thick acrid smoke, and falling ceilings, and pieces of debris....then common sense might be to stay in your flat, try to block any space around the front door with wet towels, and hope that fire brigade members with breathing apparatus, axes and torches come to rescue you.
By leading you down “an unlit stairwell, full of thick acrid smoke, and falling ceilings, and pieces of debris...”?

If l am in a tower block that catches fire, l am going to GTF out. l am not going to wait and see whether a bunch of [very brave and dedicated] unionised civil servants, with a million-page Health & Safety manual, are going to climb to the 24th floor to see if anyone’s there.

Let’s take some personal responsibility here, team. The system is not your friend.

maximus otter
 

stu neville

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For one thing, residents didn't know how bad the fire was until, in many cases, it was too late.
This is the point - nobody expected it to go up as catastrophically and as fast as it did once the cladding caught. Up until then, the advice to stay in your flat was perfectly sound and tested: as I've said previously in this thread I worked in tower-block management years ago - internal flat-fires happen all the time, and the modular design means that they self-contain to one dwelling. Most fires occur in bin-rooms and they too are insulated to prevent spread. Anyone who has spent most of their lives in that environment would know this and will instinctively have stayed put as a result. All of this just switches focus away from the relaxation of building regs which enabled this to happen, which is a political matter so I will pursue it no further.
 

Cochise

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Hard to know what common sense is in response to a tower block fire.

If you believe that by leaving your flat you will have to exit via 15 floors of an unlit stairwell, full of thick acrid smoke, and falling ceilings, and pieces of debris....then common sense might be to stay in your flat, try to block any space around the front door with wet towels, and hope that fire brigade members with breathing apparatus, axes and torches come to rescue you.
Except of course if the containment theory had applied, then the stairwells are presumably not full of debris etc. Still. I don't know what I would have done - except I very much dislike high buildings so would probably not be there in the first place - I really would rather live in a tent in the woods.

It's a pity the report has been published in two parts. To me , what it condemns so far is the complete eclipsing of reactive response by predictive response. In something like a fire, or war, or other emergency, you have to leave some room for the unpredictable and your commanders need to be trained accordingly. 'Expect the unexpected' may be logical nonsense, but it is also a necessary skill for dealing with real time events.
 

stu neville

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Except of course if the containment theory had applied, then the stairwells are presumably not full of debris etc.
There'd still be the risk of smoke, fumes, etc - the flats contain fire and structural damage but they're not airtight, so gases still escape and carbon monoxide/dioxide can accumulate on closed landings. Fumes various kill as many if not more than actual fire.
 
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The fact remains that the survivors were those who ignored the disastrous advice to stay put.

These included several residents from the top floor, most notably one man who carried his disabled mother all the way down the stairs!

Had the survivors not used their common sense and fled the building, the death toll would have been far higher.
 
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The fact remains that the survivors were those who ignored the disastrous advice to stay put.

These included several residents from the top floor, most notably one man who carried his disabled mother all the way down the stairs!

Had the survivors not used their common sense and fled the building, the death toll would have been far higher.
That's completely after the fact though and we're being wise after the event.

No-one knew at the time that ignoring what would normally be good advice would get them killed.
 

Yithian

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With the caveat that anybody following official advice can in no way be blamed if that advice was bad:

I was in a potentially very dodgy situation in the Philippines, being asked (with my family) to board a small vessel and cross a channel in heavy seas with a massive thunderstorm directly overhead (and I mean massive). My wife was extremely anxious, but I assured her that just because I'd boarded the mini-bus and nodded to the staff, there was no way that we would board the boat until I has satisfied myself that it was safe. I literally imagined myself in the third person, reading the headlines (of the boat being sunk) the following morning and asking 'why on earth did they agree to go?'*

When we reached the dock, I asked to speak to the pilot/captain in person, which in torrential rain was an unpopular request. Nonetheless, I asked him directly whether the crossing was safe. He answered very professionally that, first, it was safe in his judgment, and, second, that if it wasn't, he himself would refuse to sail quite apart from the concerns of any passenger. Just to make sure, I asked him (off the top of my head) to give me a risk assessment out of 10. He gave me 9.9 on the grounds that no crossing is ever 100% safe, but that he had sufficient visibility plus report from the destination of the same. Good enough for me: I asked the porters to put our luggage on board.

My point? That there is a reasonable point that, at the end of the day, your safety is your own responsibility. And even if that is not legally true, it is no use being legally right yet dead.

I have no idea what the unfortunate victims in the tower thought, but I know what I would have done in the circumstances, and that is make my own judgment, in which advice given would have weighed heavily but would not have been decisive.

That may not be a popular thing to say, but if somebody is to blame it is probably not anybody in the building that night.

* Just when I was wondering whether I was being paranoid, I noticed that the Muslim man beside us on the dock was sending a video message to his family on his mobile. The language barrier didn't stop me realising that he was telling his wife and children that he loved them.
 

Yithian

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You don't know what you would have done in the circumstances because you don't know what the circumstances were as they would have appeared to someone there at the time.
Fair enough, I was not clear enough.

To be more specific: I know what process I would have gone through as I have gone through it before (once as described above and once in a typhoon), although I cannot know what actions would result from that process as I cannot know the specific circumstances.

The only circumstances I need to be clear on is that there is a fire in my high-rise building; once that is true, I'm making my own risk-assessments.

Quite apart from this, I used to live on the twenty-third floor. All flats had a tiny 'safe chamber' adjoining the outside wall with a (supposedly) fire-proof door. We were told that if we could not leave because of smoke/fire then that would be our best refuge as they were designed to be able to be 'broken into' from the chambers above and below.

I probed the floor and ceiling a little and found them pretty sturdy, but I suppose the firemen have specialist equipment. The door was 'layered' with several different materials that I am not qualified to identify, but at least one was metal. It was a bit damp in their and smelt of concrete--I suppose it was essentially a shaft running straight down the building.

Very glad we never had to use it.
 
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