Socialist Worker

Housing bosses ignored fire warnings given before Grenfell blaze

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2617

Class anger burst onto the streets the day after the Grenfell Tower fire

Class anger burst onto the streets the day after the Grenfell Tower fire (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Housing bosses knew that Grenfell Tower was unsafe and did nothing to fix it, according to damning new evidence.

The west London tower block failed two separate safety inspections before the fire that killed at least 72 people in June 2017.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) did not act on them.

One inspection was an independent fire risk assessment in June 2016.

The other was carried out by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). It delivered its report eight months before the fire.

LFEPA told KCTMO the safety work should have been carried out by May 2017, one month before the fire.

Its report found serious problems with fire doors, some of which did not fit properly, and other problems which allowed smoke to spread more quickly.

Moyra Samuels from the Justice4Grenfell campaign group said, “This shows clearly there is culpability.

“If these fire risks were identified before the fire and not acted upon there’s a clear line of responsibility.”

The latest shocking revelations came ahead of the monthly Silent Walk for Grenfell this Tuesday

They also back up what residents said all along—that it was a death trap.

Inspection 

The inspection also raised questions about whether the 2016 refurbishment of the building had altered firefighters’ ability to operate the lift controls in an emergency.

The independent fire risk inspection report found 43 separate “high risk” failings. These are on top of other safety issues, such as failed air vents and problems with doors.

How can we get justice for Grenfell victims?
How can we get justice for Grenfell victims?
  Read More

A firefighter who attended the tower on the night of the fire described how important this was. “You didn’t see anybody else, you literally had to bump into them.

“It was just hot, humid and thick black smoke,” they said.

“Not having correct fire doors is important. Once the smoke starts seeping through to other places, it makes it difficult and dangerous for everybody on that floor.

“And it shouldn’t really go into the stairwell unless there was a breach or ill-fitted doors or something of that nature.”

Cops have said they are considering charges of corporate manslaughter, among others.

It’s a scandal that over a year since the fire just three people have been interviewed under caution—and that no arrests have been made.

Moyra argued the fact the evidence was not acted on before the fire shows the “general disdain to the North Kensington community.”

Individuals responsible for the fire, including sitting councillors and former KCTMO bosses, must not be allowed to evade responsibility.


Fire union slams cuts

The FBU firefighters’ union has hit out against Tories’ funding cuts which it says are responsible for a spike in fire deaths

Fire deaths in England last year were at their highest since 2010-2011—334.

Cuts have seen one in five firefighter jobs slashed since 2010.

That means there are 10,000 fewer firefighters on duty.

FBU national officer Dave Green said, “The Grenfell Tower fire should have been a wake-up call. The Westminster government should have reacted by investing in the fire and rescue service.

“But instead they just keep on cutting.

“They are putting the public at risk, while wrecking a well-respected, professional public service.”


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