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


Some friends of mine installed a misting system in a big refurb job on an 18th C mill building - the results are aesthetically insignificant (you wouldn't know it's there unless you noticed the edges of the 50mm diameter flush mounted pop-up nozzles) . The amounts of water that are introduced when activated are tiny in comparison to a "traditional" sprinkler system - as far as special treatments are concerned for any areas likely to be affected - it's a "don't bother" scenario.

Escape zones i.e. on a staircase some epoxy paint loaded with recycled shotblasting grit applied to the floors in any stairwell would provide anti-slip - towerblock stairwells aren't generally high traffic areas. IIRC you can get surprising guarantees of durability on such a scheme.

If the structure would support it - a rooftop swimming pool (health centre?) would supply any water required ;-)

I'm quite curious about the architects ... they seem to have done the proverbial runner?

Dec 31, 2017 at 8:52 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Dec 31, 2017 at 8:02 PM by golf charlie

If it as difficult as you say, and there appears to be no alternative without spending money, lots of it, tenants in high rise blocks are on a to a hiding to nothing :)

Dec 31, 2017 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

tomo & Robert Christopher

Owners of historic buildings have used technology developed for specialist purposes, ships, marine, military, computers/electronics etc. This is technology that is tried and tested. It works, and costs would be reduced by mass production.

Fires at Windor Castle, Hampton Court etc did cause a bit of a rethink, when it came to Listed Buildings.

Offshore, marine, ships etc tend to be built with materials that can get wet, and don't absorb water. Control system are better protected (or have back-ups) from the consequences of fire - heat, smoke, steam, loss of power and water

The UK Building Regulations started with getting people out of a building. There was time to get everyone out of Grenfell Tower using the stairs, when the Fire and Rescue Services first arrived on the scene, and possibly when they realised the fire was not within their control.

Jan 1, 2018 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

It's not only tenants in high rise blocks on a hiding to nothing, it looks like cars in multi-story car parks have the same problem:
EXPLOSIONS were heard and horses evacuated after a huge blaze ripped through a car park in a dramatic incident that officials say could have been prevented by sprinklers.
Express: Huge fire tears apart Liverpool car park - inferno could have been prevented by SPRINKLERS

Jan 1, 2018 at 4:34 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Jan 1, 2018 at 4:34 PM | Robert Christopher

Sprinklers are unlikely to extinguish a burning car. A car fire normally starts under the protection of the bonnet. Car tyres are good for spreading fire from one car, to an adjacent car. Once fuel and/or oil is leaking, and alight, from one car......

Fire engines don't fit into multistorey car parks either.

Jan 1, 2018 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

re: burning cars

I don't think they could have done much there... confined space, *lots* of combustible material.

A sprinkler system might have slowed / reduced the spread by cooling adjacent vehicles but it'd have to have been a manually operated deluge system as by the time the phials have individually ruptured the fire has got hold - given the combustibility of cars ...

Jan 1, 2018 at 10:56 PM | Registered Commentertomo


'Sprinklers are unlikely to extinguish a burning car. '

The officials didn't suggest that! No one did.

You appear to have difficulty in comprehending the posts here as your replies veer off, implying something that could not easily be inferred.

In this case, officials said that a sprinkler system would have given the fire brigade a better chance of reducing the damage. The thought of it extinguishing a burning car is only present in your mind: not the officials, nor mine. It isn't relevant as we know it isn't feasible.

Their view must be of some value as they were on site (I would assume unless told otherwise) and would have some previous experience. They might have even discussed it among themselves.

And I can't see what driving a fire engine into the seat of the fire would accomplish: a truly deluded option.

Jan 1, 2018 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

Robert Christopher, if you think a car fire can be extinguished with a sprinkler, you are welcome to try. As tomo points out, a sprinkler/mist spray may reduce the chances of an adjacent car catching fire. Water may be used to cool a car down, to reduce catastrophic failure of fuel tanks, but that requires firefighters to be dangerously close. Multistorey car parks are well ventilated, and cause a "firestorm" effect. Spraying a multistorey car park with water from the outside will help to prevent flames from spreading to other buildings, but may not "save" any specific cars.

Legislation for buildings changes at 18+ metres in height. This is linked to maximum heights achievable with standard ladders. One of the problems at Grenfell was a shortage of appliances with long enough ladders.

Many of the general public are deluded about what fire fighters can actually achieve when attending a fire. Their first priority is saving lives, not buildings. No one was able to save the lives of those in the upper levels of Grenfell. They should not have been trapped there.

Jan 2, 2018 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


I have not suggested that a sprinkler system can extinguish a car fire, so why strongly infer that I have done that? Why even mention it when it is accepted fake news.

It is tantamount to extreme inventiveness of the unpleasant kind.

Please stop it. It does you no good.

I have quoted officials, saying that a sprinkler system could have delayed the spread of the car park fire, giving the fire brigade more time to deal with the fire. Given that the temperatures were reported to be 800 - 1000 Deg C and that the fire spread to many floors, not just to adjacent cars, that is quite a sensible view. Just keeping the temperature down would have reduced the damage.

Given that there was no sprinkler system, I expect determining what fire risks, if any, were considered will be most illuminating, and how competent those involved were in deciding that a sprinkler system was not needed, assuming that a decision was consciously made.

I expect it is possible to install a sprinkler system to be ineffective but sensible people would not expect such a result.

Jan 2, 2018 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

Robert Christopher

I was going to quote the Merseyside fire officer that made the statement about sprinklers.

Having seen my share of burning cars - the opportunity to prevent the spread is a limited one time wise. The amount of water required once two or three cars are burning would likely exceed many local water supplies.... If there are high value assets to be protected a foam deluge is generally the very expensive and complicated response - effectively multiplying the effect of the water. Aircraft are worth the effort - cars..... not so much.

Given the amount of plastic panels on modern cars I'd suspect that car fires have become more destructive if not more common in the last 25 years... Where car parks are not standalone i.e. integrated into shopping malls and the like a fire suppression system seems like a prudent move.

Jan 2, 2018 at 9:33 AM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo - you still haven't addressed any of the points raised in my last post, only gone off at a tangent.

What a disappointing start to the New Year.

Jan 2, 2018 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

Robert Christopher

That's quite a lot of cars incinerated - thankfully no people. The actual temperatures are just that... it's the amount of fuel available and the chimney effect that makes it all work so effectively - plus the extensive use of plastic panels on modern motors.

I suspect that a sprinkler system wasn't even considered - the ensuing squawking after this fire and the insurance claims from my fellow scousers might persuade tptb to reconsider the sprinkler situation - but I wouldn't be surprised if a trial found that 2-3 adjacent cars burning is unstoppable on a single floor.

Jan 2, 2018 at 11:14 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Robert Christopher, I am not ex Fire and Rescue Services, but have been involved with the aftermath, cause etc of quite a lot of fires. I have worked with serving Fire Officers, and retired Fire Officers.

If every building had a sprinkler system, fatalities and devastation caused by fire would be reduced. False activations would lead to a massive increase to property damaged. Fire Officers know this, and have been advocating sprinkler systems for decades. Since Grenfell, the media are broadcasting their views more readily. A sprinkler system is NOT a magic solution to all tyes of fire. What is a sprinkler system? Mist, spray or drench? Automatic or manual?

You refer to my delusions about fighting a fire. What do you think they are?

Jan 2, 2018 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie