Poor building work ‘fuelled Grenfell fire’
The Grenfell Tower fire was fuelled by botched building work that went well beyond the use of flammable cladding panels, a study for the Metropolitan police has reportedly revealed.
Gaps around windows, wrongly fitted cavity barriers meant to stop fire, and dozens of missing door closers helped to spread rather than limit the fire in June 2017 that resulted in the deaths of 71 people, according to details that emerged on Monday.
A survivors’ group, Grenfell United, said the findings were shocking. The analysis comes as the more than 530 core participants in the public inquiry digest a series of confidential technical reports commissioned by the inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick. In parallel, Scotland Yard is investigating the blaze and has said it is considering possible manslaughter and corporate manslaughter charges.
The technical report for detectives was drawn up by BRE Global, a building research company that runs fire testing in the UK. It reportedly identified multiple “deficiencies” in the £10m ($14m) recladding of Grenfell Tower between 2014 and 2016, carried out on behalf of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, the social housing arm of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Cavity barriers that are meant to expand and seal gaps between concrete surfaces and cladding in the event of fire were of “insufficient size specification”, it is reported. They were designed to close a 25mm gap but were installed with a 50mm gap. Some were installed upside down or back to front and the failures “provided a route for fire spread”.
There were gaps of 15cm between window frames and concrete columns that were filled by rubber membrane, foam insulation and plastic panels. The report said this allowed “a direct route for fire spread”. It meant the first obstacle the fire encountered as it escaped flat 16 was the window frame, which provided “fuel”, not a barrier.
Scotland Yard and BRE Global were yet to comment on the report.