A LITANY of safety breaches which led to the horrific Grenfell Tower fire were revealed yesterday during the opening of the next stage of the inquiry into the tragedy. On its first formal day, hearing legal submissions, Richard Millett QC, lead counsel to the inquiry, outlined the conclusions of five expert reports.
Speaking before the first session began Moyra Samuels from Justice4Grenfell posed the question: ‘Information has now been revealed about the unsafe flammable cladding that was enveloping that tower, who made that decision to actually allow that building to be coated in such dangerous cladding?’
This stage of the inquiry revealed the unsafe flammable cladding, the unsafe fire doors, the dangers of a single stairwell, no sprinkler system, inadequate fire alarm and ill fitting windows. This in conjunction with flammable insulation which released cyanide gas when burned, turned the tower into a fire trap, fed like a chimney from the air rushing through the gaps in the badly fitted windows. These safety failures, the report states, led to the spread of the fire which claimed the lives of so many men, women and children.
The conclusions of the experts report revealed: • A ‘culture of safety non-compliance’ at Grenfell Tower. • The lifts failed to perform effectively, hindering the transportation of firefighting equipment and creating an ‘unnecessary risk’ to residents who could not use it to escape. • The fire service had to pump its own water into Grenfell Tower – the building’s ‘dry fire main’ system was ‘non-compliant’ with guidance at the time of construction and is ‘non-compliant with current standards’. • The smoke control system did not operate correctly, reducing the ability to vent smoke from the lobbies on each floor of Grenfell Tower which could have improved both escape and firefighting conditions. • Existing building guidelines and tests allow ‘obvious dangers’ to be incorporated into cladding systems routinely.
More than 50 firefighters will be called to give oral evidence to the Grenfell Tower inquiry, yesterday’s session was told. The inquiry is the largest ever established in Britain in terms of the number of core participants. So far, 533 individuals have been granted that status as well as 29 organisations.