Shoddy facelift to blame for ALL 71 Grenfell deaths
Original 1970s block well built to avoid risk of fire spreading in flats Botched facelift to blame for all 71 deaths, claims report by experts
NOT a single life would have been lost in Grenfell Tower if it has not been covered in cladding during a refurbishment, a damning leaked report claims.
Experts working for London’s Metropolitan Police found the original 1970s concrete, metal and timber design provided “very high levels of passive fire protection”.
But substandard materials and bodged fixes during an £8.6million refurbishment allowed flames from a fridge-freezer fire to rapidly spread, killing 71 people, including Isaac Paulos, five, last June 14.
One specialist architect told London’s Evening Standard: “The question is, could this fire have been avoided? This damning report is saying it absolutely could have been and that the refurb was to blame.”
Corporate manslaughter charges may now follow next month’s judge-led inquiry.
BRE Global, which runs fire testing in the UK, found materials and insulation used in cladding were combustible and “cavity barriers” between the cladding used to close a 50mm gap only expanded 25mm – creating a deadly “chimney effect” up the building. Faulty or missing door catches also helped the fire spread.
BRE’s report dated January 31, 2018 states: “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... comprising exposed concrete and likely timber or metal frame windows, would not have provided a medium for fire spread up the external surface.” It adds: “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.”
New window frames were 15cm too small, with rubberised membrane, rigid foam insulation and uPVC lightweight plastic panels used to fill gaps. The report said that “none of the materials used would be capable of providing 30 minutes’ fire resistance” and, crucially, this allowed “a direct route for fire spread around the window frame into the cavity of the facade… and from the facade back into flats”.
Ten months on, only seven other tower blocks with dangerous cladding have had it replaced.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council agreed to the refit – partly to make it more attractive to millionaires living in nearby conservation areas.
It was carried out by Rydon Construction from 2014-2016. Survivor’s group Grenfell United said: “It was clear to us the refurbishment was shoddy and second rate. We raised concerns time and time again. We were not just ignored but bullied to keep quiet.” John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, said: “It demands a response from Government to make sure it never happens again.”
RBKC, which has handed over thousands of documents, said: “We are committed to finding the truth.”
BLAZE Grenfell destroyed by killer inferno GAPS AROUND FRAMES Wrong size windows allowed flames into wall cavity VICTIM Isaac Paulos, 5, died in the inferno CAVITY BARRIER GAPS Inadequate material too small to halt fire spreading DOOR TO WASTE CHUTE...
SHOCKING Mirror’s report on killer blaze and faulty cladding