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No life would have been lost in Grenfell disaster if tower block had been refurbished properly



  • Gaps in new cladding and windows helped blaze funnel upwards through block
  • Blaze would never got beyond the flat where it started before 2016 refurb 

By Martin Robinson, Uk Chief Reporter For Mailonline

Published: 07:20 EDT, 16 April 2018 | Updated: 08:18 EDT, 16 April 2018

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The disastrous refurbishment of Grenfell Tower turned the block into a tinderbox death trap that killed 71 people, a leaked report revealed today.

Experts have found that had Britain's worst fire happened before 2014 it is likely that no lives would have been lost.

The draft report from January, compiled to help Scotland Yard with its investigation, has found five major failures largely caused by shoddy building work at the 24-storey, 70-metre-high block.

The fire, which broke out when a fridge exploded on June 14 2017, engulfed the building in minutes because 'gaps' in the building's new cladding and windows helped fan the flames.   

The disastrous refurbishment of Grenfell Tower turned the block into a tinderbox death trap that killed 71 people, a leaked report revealed today
The disastrous refurbishment of Grenfell Tower turned the block into a tinderbox death trap that killed 71 people, a leaked report revealed today

The disastrous refurbishment of Grenfell Tower turned the block into a tinderbox death trap that killed 71 people, a leaked report revealed today

The cladding was installed with gaps and even upside down as part of the botched 2016 refurb
The cladding was installed with gaps and even upside down as part of the botched 2016 refurb

The cladding was installed with gaps and even upside down as part of the botched 2016 refurb

The shocking report reveals: 

  • Poorly cut insulation left gaps of up to 5cm meaning air could rush through the cladding and fan the flames;
  • There were gaps of up to 15cm after the new windows went in and none of the uPVC frames were capable of withstanding a fire for more than a few minutes;
  • Insulation used on the block was either 'flammable' or 'highly flammable';
  • An 'absence of door closers' meant that many doors failed to close as people fled, allowing the fire and smoke to spread easily;
  • Firefighters could only get one fire engine to the base of Grenfell because of new landscaping;

The key conclusion is that the fire would not have spread beyond Flat 16 - where it started - and nobody would have died - if the building's outside had not been re-clad. 

This was made even worse because the insulation used in the refurbishment, carried out between 2014 and 2016, was flammable.

Only one in five of all fire door closers were working properly, meaning the smoke and flames spread through the core of the building at speed.

And firefighting facilities were poor, with no 'wet rising main' pipe meaning fire fighting water could not be easily fired to all floors.

New landscaping at the base of Grenfell also made it impossible for more than one fire engine to park at the base of the tower.

It appears the only real benefit of the new refurbishment was that it did stop the tower collapsing, but only after it accelerated the fire that killed 71 and left hundreds homeless. 

71 bodies were eventually removed from the tower but investigators believe not a soul would have perished without it terrible cladding and other flaws
71 bodies were eventually removed from the tower but investigators believe not a soul would have perished without it terrible cladding and other flaws

71 bodies were eventually removed from the tower but investigators believe not a soul would have perished without it terrible cladding and other flaws

Brave firefighters (pictured rescuing a victim) were hampered by new landscaping that stopped vehicles getting close and also the lack of a 'rising water main'
Brave firefighters (pictured rescuing a victim) were hampered by new landscaping that stopped vehicles getting close and also the lack of a 'rising water main'

Brave firefighters (pictured rescuing a victim) were hampered by new landscaping that stopped vehicles getting close and also the lack of a 'rising water main'

According to the report, seen by the Evening Standard, the 2014-2016 refurbishment of the west London tower block failed to meet fire safety standards and 'deficiencies' in the new facade helped the fire to spread up the building's exterior.

The report, by fire investigation experts BRE Global, was quoted in the Evening Standard as saying: '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.'

Dated January 31, the report was prepared as part of the police investigation into the June 14 fire.

It also identified flaws with the cavity barriers, window frames, 'door closers' and flammable insulation and cladding, the paper said.

Cavity barriers were installed back to front or upside down and were 'insufficient' to bridge the gap between the surface of the building and the cladding, creating a chimney-like effect that aided the spread of flames.

Window frames were narrower than the gap they were placed in, meaning fire could spread around the frame, on to the building's facade and back into other flats.

There was also a lack of 'door closers', meaning that when residents fled, their flat doors stayed open, allowing the fire to spread into the lobby.

The absence of a sprinkler system and the narrow single internal stairwell also breached building regulations.

  

 

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