Over the last month, reports have surfaced regarding the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower and the various causes of the fire itself.
Fire safety specialists BRE Global, who are investigating the fire on behalf of the Metropolitan Police, has detailed five breaches of building regulations. The majority of these breaches have occurred after a refurbishment between 2014-2016, where installation teams failed to specify the correct window frames, resulting in rubberised membrane, rigid foam insulation and uPVC lightweight plastic panels being used to fill the resulting gaps.
By now, we’re all aware of the combustible nature of the outside cladding, and the report reminds us to consider each of the factors in combination, as opposed to solely blaming the one element.
Fire safety basics were overlooked during the refurbishment, with many doors not having closers on them, meaning the fire spread much quicker than if the doors had closed back on themselves whilst people were fleeing the building, in addition to the fact that there was only room for one fire engine to get close to the building, an absence of a sprinkler system, and the only stairwell in the building was 8cm narrower than regulations dictate.
It has been reported that the original building design would have managed the risk of fire much more effectively. The FIA reports that a draft of the 200-page report, leaked to the Evening Standard, says:
“Grenfell Tower, as originally built, appears to have been designed on the premise of providing very high levels of passive fire protection.
“The original facade of Grenfell Tower, comprising exposed concrete and, given its age, likely timber or metal frame windows, would not have provided a medium for fire spread up the external surface. In BRE’s opinion … there would have been little opportunity for a fire in a flat of Grenfell Tower to spread to any neighbouring flats.”
In addition, an earlier report has also found that the doors installed, again as part of the refurbishment, provided half as much protection as their manufacturer outlined.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman told Sky News:
”We have previously described that our forensic examination at the scene would be followed by a phase of offsite testing to be conducted by experts on our behalf.
"As part of this investigation experts tested a flat front door taken from Grenfell Tower.
"The door tested was designed to resist fire for up to 30 minutes but during the test it was only found to resist the fire for approximately 15 minutes. A much shorter period than expected.”
Given the tragic outcome of the fire, and the cumulative nature of the effects that caused the blaze to spread, it’s more important than ever to make sure every aspect of your building is protected as thoroughly as possible.
We sincerely hope that fire safety has been pushed to the forefront of building owner’s minds, and if you have any questions, or would like to enhance your knowledge of fire safety, please get in touch.