THE CLADDING (HPL) that encased the Bolton students’ accommodation block that was engulfed in flames last week was found, after examination by scientists, to be worse than the cladding used at Grenfell.
According to research from Imperial College London and Warsaw’s Building Research Unit, HPL cladding failed fire safety checks 80% of the time.
These research bodies found that the Grenfell cladding failed tests 60 per cent of the time. The Bolton Blaze took place two-and-a-half years after the Grenfell inferno with its 72 deaths. Nothing has changed!
The firefighters’ union, the FBU, has now called for a forum to implement the Grenfell inquiry recommendations.
That this should be the case two-and-a-half years after the Grenfell inferno proves once again that building for profit and the safety of both workers and residents are polar opposites.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says a forum is needed to drive through sweeping changes to UK fire safety.
The union has written to the London Fire Brigade, the National Fire Chiefs Council, the Mayor of London, the Local Government Association, the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, fire safety bodies and the Grenfell community.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, writes that firefighters, tenants, government and fire safety and housing specialists must work together to ensure ‘the lessons to be learned from this first phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry are put into practice.’
He says in his letter, ‘I am writing to seek an urgent meeting to discuss how the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry can be addressed and implemented quickly and efficiently.’
The Fire Brigades Union welcomes the recommendations and believes that many of them are long overdue. For the recommendations to be implemented, a forum should include fire safety specialists, representatives from central and local government, housing specialists, tenants’ organisations and other relevant organisations.
The 46 recommendations are laid on a variety of bodies. Central government, meanwhile, has been instructed to develop national guidelines for carrying out partial or total evacuations of high-rise residential buildings.
The FBU believes that tenants’ representatives should have a voice in all of these matters. It also believes that fire industry bodies can help advise owners and managers of high rise residential buildings on how to implement the most robust fire safety measures.
At the same time, the FBU has pointed to Home Office statistics released on 14 November, showing that Surrey has seen the steepest rise in fire deaths in over a decade, with the number of fire-related fatalities rising from one to nine over the course of June 2018 to June 2019.
Staffing shortages in Surrey have left fire engines unavailable to respond to emergency calls on numerous occasions over the last year, contributing to slower response times as crews often have to travel from nearby counties.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is facing further cuts, including cutting 70 firefighter posts and removing seven fire engines at night, which were approved by Surrey County Council at a cabinet meeting on 24 September.
Lee Belsten, Surrey FBU brigade secretary, said: ‘The rise in the number of fire deaths flies in the face of everything Surrey’s chief fire officer and Surrey County councillors have been telling the public. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is already struggling to protect the public, and further cuts to fire cover won’t help to improve the service.’
What is required for fire safety is not some decorative advisory group, but a body that combines inspections with the power to legislate and implement change – a body that has real power.
This the bosses and government will always reject as a massive drain on the right to make a profit.
For the FBU to lead a serious change means fighting for a workers government and the establishment of workers councils of action that can inspect, legislate on, and implement fire safety.
This requires a socialist revolution, and the nationalisation of the building industry. Nothing less will do!