|The News Line: News
Wednesday, 6 June 2018
Grenfell cladding ‘more flammable than petrol!’
THE REFURBISHMENT of Grenfell Tower ‘rendered it a death trap’ through the installation of cladding ‘more flammable than petrol,’ Stephanie Barwise QC told the inquiry yesterday.
|North Kensington resident holds up charred insulation from the Grenfell Tower inferno – cladding used on the tower has been revealed to be more flammable than petrol
She said: ‘As it stood before the refurbishment, Grenfell was constructed of virtually incombustible concrete. ‘It was however covered by the polyethylene cladding now openly described by some in the industry as petrol. ‘Our understanding is that the ignition of the polyethylene within the cladding panel produces a flaming reaction more quickly than dropping a match into a barrel of petrol.’
• The FBU firefighters union annual conference began yesterday in Brighton. Speaking outside, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘It is clear that from the earliest accounts of the night, that firefighters faced an unprecedented catastrophe and they responded by going above and beyond the call of duty.
‘The Fire Brigades Union hopes the Grenfell Tower inquiry, of which we are a core participant, investigates the “stay put” policy forensically. There are difficult and complex issues to be addressed.
‘Tower blocks are designed so if a fire breaks out in a property, the blaze can be held there for a length of time, allowing fire crews to respond. This is called compartmentation. It clearly failed at Grenfell Tower. The “stay put” policy may well have to be changed, particularly after this failure of compartmentation at Grenfell, but we will not prejudge the inquiry.
‘I am entirely confident that those taking emergency calls, the firefighters and fire officers attending the incident did their utmost on the night and at the incident to save as many lives as they could.
‘Regrettably, they operated in an impossible situation because the fire was on such an unprecedented scale.
‘We wrote to the Prime Minister in the aftermath of the fire, and called for an immediate review of the fire services response to all tower block fires, that has not been addressed. ‘We have called for all flammable cladding to be removed from those buildings. It seems that very little progress has been made on that and we have called for the government to pay for that, which hasn’t happened.’
National FBU officer Dave Green said: ‘This is the first FBU conference since the Grenfell Tower fire so it will be a major part of the conference.
‘To be frank, there will be discussions about how it happened, why it happened and our response to it as a fire service. Clearly, we are expressing concerns about cuts to the fire service over the past decade and also about the deregulation of the fire safety industry. ‘So all of that are issues that we have discussed before, we have been making warnings before, and now we will be saying “this has resulted in this tragedy”.’
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