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Discussion > Grenfell Tower - Deadly Fires: Mismanagement, or just no managers present

It is possible that some residents had entered into legal looking "tenancy agreements", that were actually with a KCTMO Tenant, not KCTMO. KCTMO may have no liability to re-house SUB Tenants.

Jun 21, 2017 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf Charlie

Could they house the sub-tennant, because it is good PR, but not the tennant because he/she/they broke their tenancy agreement (I would have thought) and weren't there.

Jun 22, 2017 at 12:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

Jun 22, 2017 at 12:23 AM | Robert Christopher

I don't know. I have absolutely no idea about the Legal, Insurance or Financial Status of KCTMO, let alone Tenants, Sub-Tenants, Lodgers etc.

I do not know who "they" are, that will be making any decisions, KCTMO? Insurers? Local Government? Central Government? Some will find out that there is no such thing as good Public Relations, even if they sign unlimited blank Cheques.

The total cost in human lives still remains unknown. The true identities of some of the victims may never be known. The dead cannot protest about their rights.

It is probable that the number of people now homeless will exceed the number legally entitled to rehousing, and many of them will have acted in good faith.

Jun 22, 2017 at 3:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Jun 22, 2017 at 3:05 AM by golf charlie

Neither do I, but the question should be, 'Do the appropriate authorities know?'

It does look a mess.

Yahoo: However, the Government now plans to house them permanently in the £2 billion Kensington Row complex on Kensington High Street ...

Permanently is a long time in anyone's book. Will they be able to pass it onto their children? What happens if they live a fairy tale life and end up with at least one partner and many offspring? Will they pay rent? What happens if they can't get a job. Remember, this is indefinitely. What happens if they sub-let?

It might have been sorted, but a public outcry can soon let things slide.

Jun 22, 2017 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

At the tail end of last summer there were some trade press articles noting a slowdown in commercial housing developments in London. Not that I have been paying attention - but I do have a suspicion that things haven't changed markedly in the intervening time - and that there is a surplus of "non worker housing" in the London market that isn't selling outside the "hot zones". I wonder if that luxury development's units were shifting well ..... or are we again looking at the "Municipal Simple Shopper" who's looking to get themselves out of a jam with OPM?

Jun 22, 2017 at 1:29 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Jun 22, 2017 at 1:29 PM | tomo

Building land is developed for the best profit, subject to the constraints imposed by Planning Policy

The London property market has been boosted by EU Citizens and wealthy investors from further overseas. Developers and the housing market like confidence in rising values. It is all a bit nervous at the moment.

Jun 23, 2017 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Jun 22, 2017 at 8:29 AM | Robert Christopher

"Housing someone permanently", simply means that they will have the same protection as tenants, as they did previously, subject to the same conditions, possibly including rent.

If a house catches fire, it could take 6-12 months to restore it. Grenfell Tower is unlikely to be refurbished within 12 months, if ever, so having been rehoused, it may well become "permanent".

Jun 23, 2017 at 1:55 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Jun 23, 2017 at 1:55 AM by golf charlie

permanently - in a way that lasts or remains unchanged indefinitely; for all time.

'For all time' is a long, long time.

Why not say, 'continue their tenancy agreement'? It would allow time to get a better understanding of the situation, yet give assurances.

It would also not promise into the unknown. Do we (and the officials) know that only official tenants were subjected to the ordeal?

Jun 23, 2017 at 10:05 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Jun 23, 2017 at 10:05 AM | Robert Christopher

A Council House/Flat Tenancy Agreement is normally "permanent", and transferrable to family. The media are reporting simple soundbites. Politicians are keen to provide reassuring statements confirming they are doing something.

There is loads that WE don't know.

KCTMO are now realising how little they do know. We should be grateful that these events are rare. Councils/Housing Associations etc avoid rehousing tenants for planned maintenance work etc, due to the cost and disruption.

Flooding can cause properties to become uninhabitable. Councils and Housing Associations do have experience with rehousing Tenants in an emergency. It would seem logical that the London Mayor and UK Prime Minister may have agreed to pay temporary secondment costs for experienced staff, from other areas of London and the rest of the country.

For this to work, staff need to know what their delegated financial authority is, for immediate decisions. Did May agree a cash handout of £5,000 "Compensation" per Tenant, or commit to fund UPTO £5,000 for immediate expenses? I don't know, but it was reported as though wads of cash are being given away.

There are loads of acrimonious scandals to emerge from Before The Fire, possibly leading to criminal charges and jail sentences. Check latest news. Events After The Fire will also rumble on for years.

All of these will be further complicated by arse-covering and mudflinging. Trying to score Political Points now, is not helping those residents that remain alive. It may not help the careers of Politicians and Policy Makers either, whatever the colour of their Political Flag.

Jun 23, 2017 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@gc

the pieces I read last year seemed to show that supply was outstripping demand in some sectors and that some ambitious developments were not meeting their sales targets - subjectively these seemed to be in the 3/4 bedroom upper end of the domestic market.

Palatial pied a terres for jet setting kleptocrats seemed as buoyant as ever....

Given that confidence is a huge part of the market - no estate agent is ever going to publicly admit that the market had faltered until it's so obvious as to not require explanation. I somehow doubt that those presently charged with finding displaced person accomodation are looking at the price tag or the market very closely....

The structure of the Blair era TMO vehicles and required competences for being in charge / managing public property are going to come under scrutiny.

On the face of it the £160K pa chief of KCTMO doesn't look particularly technically qualified for property management beyond his networking skills and it's difficult to imagine the dullards gurning out of the web site being on top of building technical issues. I know one should not judge a book by its cover but ... it is very difficult to ignore the similarities with other municipal bodies of which I've had some experience that were filled with people operating well outside their knowledge and stubbornly refusing to take advice or counsel from individuals with relevant skills and experience.

Jun 23, 2017 at 2:25 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Interesting film at Biased BBC called The Great British Housing Disaster made in 1984, which suggests that there are much bigger problems than just this one tower block. Worth watching the whole thing.

Jun 23, 2017 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Jun 23, 2017 at 11:26 AM by golf charlie
"Trying to score Political Points now, is not helping those residents that remain alive."

Pointing out that those who are paid to be prepared for such emergencies are not prepared is not political point scoring, especially if they are continuing to make mistakes and make matters worse, more expensive, and for longer! :)

It is also helping to defend those who have no direct responsibility yet are being accused of everything under the sun.

Jun 23, 2017 at 3:07 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

tomo & Robert Christopher

Incompetents manage too much taxpayer funded work, whether it is in the NHS, Central or Local Government. When the poo hits the fan, they melt away having blamed everybody else, especially those who knew better, that they silenced.

All too often, private consultants are brought in, but only to confirm what the Incompetents wanted to hear.

From the BBC News, I understand the seat of the fire was a fridge. Cause unknown, but presumably NOT foul play or arson. Formal Inquests into each death (100?) can be concluded and funeral arrangements made.

The Police have confirmed that their investigations have widened.

The UK Building Regulations started with Fire Safety, and getting people out of the building in the event of a fire, spread of fire within the building, and spread of fire to other buildings.

Jun 23, 2017 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@gc

getting people out of the building

"If there's an alarm - stay in your flat until we tell you otherwise" ..... (like erm how? - by loud hailer from the ground?)

Removal of fire extinguishers from shared areas.

Red penciling the sprinklers

of course the above is 20:20 hindsight...

A housing association near me wanted to remove all sprinkler systems (2 obvious lives saved on their patch already plus obvious reductions in fire damage) due to "expense" and an apparent/supposed risk of Legionaire's disease from the sprinkler system.

There are responsibilities to living in shared accommodation both for management and residents - those who chose to renege on their responsibilities should be removed. Vandalising / stealing fire safety equipment should be punished harshly (fat chance I suppose with our joke courts) and regular alarm tests + full evacuation drills should be part of the living experience.

Jun 23, 2017 at 6:06 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Jun 23, 2017 at 6:06 PM | tomo

We take it on trust that Car Airbags will work, and that no one has tampered with them, vandalised them, or modified them. No one wants to test them for real.

No homeowner would want a domestic sprinkler system activating, everytime there was a malfunction in the operation of a toaster.

The flats were originally designed to contain a fire within one flat.

A sprinkler system in corridors and stairwells might have helped people escape from the building, but only if emergency stairwells were internal and without shared fabric with the external cladding.

Radical Rodent previously raised the issue of sprinklers within the cladding. This may become an emergency retrofit solution.

Try Googling Zero Spread of Flame.

First Aid is taught in schools and at work etc. Firefighting is not. All the advice is based on getting out, don't stop to try and fight the fire. Those in Grenfell with their own Fire Extinguishing kit, probably did not manage to extinguish anything significant

Jun 23, 2017 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@gc

Blocks of flats are self evidently special situations as far as living spaces are concerned - and most times, as such -special conditions are routinely imposed on occupants. Because of the physical close proximity of neighbors and a more tightly shared series of utility requirements everybody is more interdependent than would be the case at ground level - and as one ascends up the structure the reliance on the floors below increases and I'd say not in a linear way... When one looks at other similar structures - I think perhaps cruise ships are a fair example - alarms and evacuation drills are an accepted part of living there - and I think it logical/sensible the same should apply to tower blocks.

There are a multiplicity of issues in the the Grenfell fire - few parties it would seem though are going to get out scot free.

I have linked smoke sensors - burnt toast and seared meat have been known to trigger them. I am mindful not to trigger beeping episodes - sprinkler systems are generally triggered by low melt point metal fuses that trip at abnormal temperatures - *way beyond* burnt toast.... There are other methods of triggering sprinklers - including vandalism...

The idea that in a fire situation the residents were instructed to stay in place is to my mind extraordinary as it presumes that any single flat combusting has a predictable outcome. There have been mains gas explosions, people storing petrol... etc. etc. which have come as "unpleasant surprises" to the designers.... Better to spend an hour or two in the car park in sleeping gear than being dead.

Jun 23, 2017 at 7:26 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Originally posted over at cliscep, but I thought you might be interested here

"I finally got the chance to talk about the Grenfell fire to my neighbour. He was a senior fire chief who, upon retirement set up a company that advises businesses upon fire safety. He emphasized what I was beginning to suspect - that the cladding panels are only a small part of the problem. He was appalled that the gas supply pipe was relocated to the single stairwell and wasn't even protected. However, the most significant point he made was something I have not heard discussed. The panel material when sufficiently heated gives off an extremely poisonous gas -isocyanate, which only takes a few breaths to be lethal. He said that survivors rescued by firemen had to be given the antidote upon reaching safety. Yet another reason not to follow the stay in your flat policy."

Jun 23, 2017 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

tomo & Supertroll, not arguing

interesting bit of Case Law, and the "use" of sprinklers

"Capital & Counties (Capco) v Hampshire County Council"

"A fire broke out in the building owned by the claimant . The fire brigade arrived and turned off the sprinkler system. They then had difficulty in locating the seat of the fire during which time the fire became out of control. By the time the firemen had located the seat of the fire Block A of the building had collapsed and spread to blocks B & C. They then reactivated the sprinkler system however, by now it was so damaged as to not work effectively. In the event the entire building was completely destroyed causing loss of £16M. Had the sprinklers not been switched off it is likely blocks B & C would have been saved."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-33304675 How 1985 British Airtours disaster changed air travel.
"Nearly all 55 victims died from the effects of smoke inhalation as the passengers scrambled towards the front exits - one of which had become jammed - creating a bottleneck effect and stranding people at the back."

Foams in planes, cars etc, changed as a result. At a similar time, Esther Rantzen and That's Life did a feature on toxic fumes from household furnture. Those foams were changed.

Just because a material does not "burn", does not mean it won't give off toxic fumes. I have no idea about the insulation used in the cladding of Grenfell Tower, or whether different rules apply to insulation used internally and externally.

Jun 23, 2017 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_regulations_in_the_United_Kingdom

Part B. Fire safety

The regulations consider five aspects of fire safety in the construction of buildings:

Requires safe means of escape from the building.

Requires the stability of a building to be maintained in a fire, both internally and externally.

Internally – The wall lining i.e. plaster, plasterboard or wooden boards on the walls and ceiling will resist the spread of flames and give off reasonable levels of heat, if on fire.

Internal stability will be maintained during a fire, and fire spread will be prevented.

Fire and smoke will be prohibited from spreading to concealed spaces in a building's structure.

Externally – The external walls and roof will resist spread of fire to walls and roofs of other buildings.

The building will be easily accessible for firefighters and their equipment.

Jun 23, 2017 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

From The Guardian:

"The Department for Communities and Local Government said last week that in buildings over 18 metres high, cladding “using a composite aluminium panel with a polyethylene core would be non-compliant with current building regulations guidance”. However, some experts have suggested this was not the case."

Whether it was compliant or not, does not change the consequences.

Jun 23, 2017 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Supertroll

I was well aware of the pretty unpleasant combustion products of Celotex - and the fumes, judging by the plume in the time lapse of the fire's progress will have done for quite a few I expect. I think that the manufacturers (of Celotex) have done due diligence in alerting their customers to the issue.

It really seems like wherever one looks in the contributing factors to this debacle people in responsible positions who were happy to take fat salaries were not truly up to the job.

Now the jobsworths are in a panic (BBC >>> EVACUATE!!!!) pointing fingers at the cladding when perhaps they should be recommending older CFC filled fridges....

gc
The Manchester 737 disaster is relevant in some ways - the burning upholstery was a contributory factor but the aircraft's positioning re the wind was the kicker, denying egress at the aft escapes. Of course cheapskating on repair was the proximal cause..... I don't know but rather suspect that welding up cracked combustors is subject to a lot of scrutiny.

however - changes to the seating layout near emergency exits, fire-resistant seat covers, floor lighting, fire-resistant wall and ceiling panels, more fire extinguishers and clearer evacuation rules were all implemented in the aftermath... as were rules about takeoff incidents - stop (if you can...) in a straight line and gtfo-asap.

Expecting councils to step up to the plate, be responsible and proportionate looks to be too much to ask. Some owners of empty flat developments and lower cost hotels around London are in for a little win it would seem.

Jun 23, 2017 at 11:41 PM | Registered Commentertomo
Jun 24, 2017 at 12:09 AM | Registered Commentertomo

It is funny how people can so quickly get the wrong impression: GC, I did not suggest setting up a sprinkler system in the cladding – such would be a foolish thing to do, as the logistics of it do not bear thinking about; far, far simpler to have either no cladding, or non-flammable cladding. For the record, my suggestion for the (atomising) sprinkler system was “…for public spaces, to protect the escape route(s).

Things do seem to be very different, today – now, when disaster happens, all the effort is taken to blaming someone – anyone! – but one’s favourites (witness the shameless “anti-Tory, anti-rich” parades). Little, if any, effort is taken to learning lessons, and applying remedies; mind you, the remedies would appear to be too drastic for even the bravest of our modern politicians and “experts” to contemplate, thus it is unlikely for any real progress to be made, beyond the blatant virtue-signalling so embarrassingly extant.

Jun 24, 2017 at 9:52 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Jun 24, 2017 at 9:52 AM | Radical Rodent, tomo & others

Apologies if I misquoted you.

Sprinkler systems within cladding may yet be an immediate response.

Sprinkler systems in corridors and stairs, ie means of escape, would improve the situation in some blocks of flats. The wall, floor and ceiling finishes and fittings would have to be changed, to cope with regular soakings with water.

The next time you are in an airport terminus building, look at the wall floor and ceiling finishes. Spread of flame is intended to be minimal. Passengers expect duty free alcohol, books and newspapers though, and retailers want them displayed prominently.

The Bradford City Fire was also in 1985. It changed Football Stadium design. The cause was the same as the fire that destroyed the original Crystal Palace (built for The Great Exhibition, not the Football Club) in 1936 - a build up of flammable litter beneath the timber floor.

The Manchester British Midlands disaster caused people to choke and asphyxiate due to airborne fluffy "particulates". FWIW, I was shown inside the plane 1-2 (?) years after the fire. Lessons WERE learnt by the aviation industry.

Grenfell Tower was better able to cope with a fridge fire when built in the 1970s.

Has the window frame material been confirmed yet?

Jun 24, 2017 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Cladding Tests

100% Failure in Safety Test so far.

Have they simply confirmed it is the same cladding system? What about the installation of barriers to prevent the chimney effect?

What about the windows that let fire into Grenfell Tower?

Jun 26, 2017 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie