Grenfell Fire


I know, I thought, I’ll head off a trite remark about collective responsibility by making what should be an unnecessary caveat in the opening line.

Did it work? Did it fuck.


Camden, like Kensington appears to have subbed the refurbishment contract to Rydon who in turn subbed the cladding work to Harley Facades. We’ll doubtless see details of what the contract required and indeed what the original architect conceived job spec was. But it’s still looking as though Kensington Council is likely to be culpable although given their apparent reserve funds, they’ve less an excuse for paring expenditure back to the bone than councils in other, less wealthy areas have. Cuts to funding are having more of an impact in those places. Austerity is certainly playing its part.

I’m already starting to notice various spokespeople trying to pass the buck & muddy the waters with regard to the regulation that’s supposedly in force. It won’t be too surprising if the enquiry when it finally gets going, pins the blame on a few hapless (& relatively powerless) individuals some way down the food chain.

I’ll be interested to hear why there were such feeble alarm systems & why it was thought that sprinklers wouldn’t be helpful when they seem to be fitted as standard to new build blocks.

The government & Kensington Council both seem like perfectly reasonable targets to pin blame on until they can demonstrate they weren’t ultimately responsible for this mess.


I guess the cladding issue depends on the extent to which the work was checked and certified. If the council followed all procedures and were let down by both contractor and certifier then they could get off that one.

For me, the big issue is sprinklers. From what I’ve read, the single most effective thing to prevent fire is a sprinkler system. Even though regulations might not mandate them needing to be retro fitted, basic fire safety would imply that they should be, unless all the other systems are certain to be faultless. Oh and fire alarms.


It’s quite interesting to read the findings of the Coroner’s inquest into the Lakanal House fire in Southwark. Despite Theresa May’s incorrect assertions today, the Coroner did recommend that sprinkler systems were retro fitted to social housing in tower blocks. Southwark Council’s response was a smokescreen of logistic difficulties partly fuelled by the problems anticipated in dealing with private leaseholders owning property in the same block who might not want to co-operate. Housing Minister Eric Pickles sent a letter that basically kicked it all down the road & it was the further delays to that report’s publication by Gavin Barwell which meant that the results of that review had still not been finalised or published 4 years later.

It’s all here. The key document is the Rule 43 letter to Southwark Borough Council on 28th March.


The old guilty until proven innocent schtick. I see.


I noticed that the right wing press were starting to blame the greens and the EU for it.
Better get them them in the dock too.


If they make an account on here, I’ll be sure to.


I would tend to agree that the Government is not (directly) responsible. Indirectly is another matter, but that will be near impossible to prove. On the other hand the Kensington Council looks like a fucking shambles though and I will be amazed if they don’t end up carrying a lot of the blame. At this point I would prefer if the focus was on ensuring that the victims are looked after and then proper steps are taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again. That will require prompt action, so kicking the can down the road will not be an option.

The establishment of two prompt enquiries into the fire and the recent terrorism goes give the opportunity to deploy the old ‘I can’t comment for fear of prejudicing the outcome…’ response to any/all difficult questions.


The coroner said the same thing after the fire in Shirley towers here in scumhampton in which 2x firemen died.

He did manage to get the regulation changed for cable ducts from plastic to metal as it was cables falling from plastic ducts that tangled and killed the firemen.

Took 5 years but the council have now retrofitted them all with sprinklers at a cost of £1 million.


Not as expensive as I would have expected.


That was £1 million for the 3x shirley tower blocks and was approved 2 years ago.


I think that the government should carry responsibility mainly because it has evidently been dragging its feet in re-examining building regs since the 2009 fire in Southwark & particularly since the coroner’s report in March 2013.

The application of austerity by the government since 2010 has also undoubtedly contributed to the spending capabilities of many councils and it’s certainly not a given that it has either been successful or effective as a policy.


More that they as landlords have the primary responsibility. Unless the contractors lied to them about the materials used (which is possible given Camden) the wriggle room should be very limited. Even then, verifying the work done would be at least expected practice.


Yes, keep jumping to conclusions and proving my point for me. It’s very satisfying.

All this speculation and extrapolation may well turn out to be true, but the jumping to conclusions now, is being done for political ends only. None of this helps the victims in any way right now, so let’s call it what it is.


Austerity was not to blame here, but it’s an easy one to blame. They spent a bloody fortune on this block. They spent it, however on the wrong things. Sprinklers & safe cladding should have been first on the list, and then insulation & making it look pretty. So those who made the decisions in how the money was spent should be, subject to all the facts coming out, be subject to corporate manslaughter charger surely?


No,not to blame in Kensington. Not sure what their excuse will be. But there are other less wealthy councils that have also been keeping costs to an absolute minimum & probably risking the well being of their tenants. I was not surprised to see that the 3 tarted up towers down here in Devonport have also been clad in the flammable panels and will now need to be reworked. I guess that may also involve sprinklers this time but they’ll need some substantial extra funding for doing it if their other services aren’t to suffer further cuts.


It is if they got rid of most of the staff who inspect the builds or check the regulations are adhered to.

(I have no idea if they have as I’m just trolling you)


The refurbishment will almost certainly have been let under a design & build contract, which means that the contractor will be responsible for the design and selection of materials. The designer could either be “in house” as in directly employed by the contractor, or a separately employed design company/architect.

Either way, the job would have been subject to the Construction, Design and Management Regulations (CDM). Under CDM the employer has to appoint a Principle Designer (not the designer actually designing the job) and a Principle Contractor.

The Principle Designer has to ensure that all of the design (including the selection of materials) is fit-for-purpose, healthy and safe. Not only for the duration of construction process, but also for the future. The Principle Contractor has to make sure the design is implemented in a healthy and safe manner during the construction phase.

Ultimately, under CDM, the buck stops with the Employer because he has a duty-of-care to ensure that the Principle Designer and Principle Contractor carry out their respective roles properly.


I’d be buying myself/demanding a smokehood whilst these cockwombles fuck it all up again.