grenfell

Architect says sprinkler installation at Glasgow Hospital was used as an excuse to flout other buildings standards

Cost-cutting Credit: George Allison under CC BY-SA 4.0 An architect who helped design Scotland s largest hospital has warned that corners were cut in the construction of the 14-storey complex in the name of keeping down costs. Robert Menzies, now retired from his role at BMJ Architects, believes the installation of a sprinkler system in Glasgow s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital has been used as an excuse for flouting other building standards. He says the complex, which includes a children s hospital, adult hospital and laboratory, lacks exit stairways and exceeds size limits on fire compartments, while a hose-reel for firefighters is too short and some fire doors open in the wrong direction.

Insulation panels used in Grenfell tower are also fitted to the hospital, although the health board has insisted they are safe. Menzies drew up the hospital s exemplar design which sets criteria that firms bidding for construction projects must meet as senior healthcare architect at BMJ. He says the construction contract was given to London-based Brookfield Multiplex in defiance of architects recommendations that a bid from Balfour Beatty be accepted on the basis of cost , he suspects. They ve then made the stairs the minimum width possible. Surely you d want to make them wider to compensate for not having enough stairways in the first place? Robert Menzies, BMJ Architect We thought we would provide a monitoring role right through to completion of the actual build, in terms of where this is compliant and where it s not, so we were surprised to be told we were no longer required, Menzies told the Glasgow Evening Times. I had read the winning bidder s fire strategy and it concerned me a lot. It was almost like they the health board didn t want us around asking questions. It was very odd.

Lack of stairways On the lack of stairways he said: They are supposed to provide three stairways minimum as an emergency escape route if there are more than 100 people per storey. In the adult tower, there are 112 patients per floor but only two stairways. They are only slightly over, but that s just the patients there are also staff and visitors. They ve then made the stairs the minimum width possible. Surely you d want to make them wider to compensate for not having enough stairways in the first place? At least one fire compartment was too big in the original designs, says Menzies at least for the limit prescribed in Scotland, set at 1500sq, whereas it did meet the 2,000sq metre limit set in England. Pointing to the high failure rate of sprinklers in US hospitals 20% of which have had fires where sprinklers failed Menzies told the Glasgow Evening Times that an over-reliance on sprinklers was foolish. If you re putting sprinklers in and you re saying a fire will never occur as a consequence, then why do you need escape stairs? Why do you need anything?

But what happens when the sprinkler system fails? They re not 100%. A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde did not dispute the veracity of Menzies claims, but pointed out that all buildings in the hospital complex were certified as compliant with Scottish fire safety and building standards by Glasgow City Council in 2015. Health Facilities Scotland also endorsed the hospital s fire strategy, he said. He said: It is important that everyone working in and coming to these world class facilities for healthcare know that we take fire safety extremely seriously and that there are heat/smoke detection and early warning fire alarm systems combined with automatic fire suppression sprinkler systems fitted in all areas. The hospitals are further protected by designated fire-fighting and fire evacuation lifts, as well as multiple fire escape stairwells. A spokeswoman for Brookfield Multiplex said: The final design met all the requirements of the building regulations and was signed off progressively through construction by Glasgow City Council s building control office.

Construction consultancy firm Currie & Brown has been appointed to verify the hospitals construction and certification process following the Grenfell blaze.

Housing arsonists and reporting 50 fires a week yet HM Prison Service fails dismally on fire safety

The Grenfell disaster prompted the editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales to issue a freedom of information request to the organisation responsible for fire safety in prisons. What was sent in response he found deeply troubling . Writing for Politics.co.uk, Mark Leech said the issue of fire safety had never really crossed my mind during his 20 years in the role until the Grenfell inferno unfolded.

The fat that fire safety is not mentioned in any inspection report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons augured badly as he began his research. The expectations document on which all prison inspections are based doesn t mention the word fire once, he said. The documents returned to Leech revealed that every single CPFIG inspection conducted in the year to June 2017 there were 19 in total had failed statutory fire safety tests and resulted in non-compliance orders. In some cases Statutory Enforcement Notices were then issued to prison governors who failed to take action within the 28-day period stipulated. Governors have to prioritise staff and bluntly, when it comes to unlocking prisoners for medication, food or visits, or conducting fire safety checks, the latter doesn t even come near the top of the list. Mark Leech, editor, Prisons Handbook for England and Wales There were nearly 50 fires a week 2,580 in total in England and Wales in 2016, Parliament heard in March. Fire safety in prisons is the responsibility of the Crown Properties Fire Inspection Group (CPFIG), based in the Home Office. It was to CPFIG that Leech submitted his freedom of information request, asking for copies of all CPFIG fire safety inspection reports on prison and young offender establishments carried out in the last 12 months. Problems found at a prison in Bristol included: Inadequate personal emergency evacuation plans Ignition sources discovered too close to combustible materials Ventilation ductwork between cells did not adequately protect against the spread of fire Emergency doors were difficult to open A lack of water misting equipment Multiple shortcomings Seizing on the information disclosed to Leech, The Chronicle has reported that fire inspectors have uncovered multiple shortcomings in fire safety measures at HMP Northumberland.

Inspectors identified inadequate measures to control the risk of fire and smoke spreading within common areas and staff have not been given enough training about how to deal with a fire in a cell. More than 83,000 men and women are currently incarcerated in UK prisons, which equates to 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 people more than three times that of the Netherlands and much higher than Spain (137.9), France (98.3), Italy (86.4) and Germany (77.4). Despite the soaring prison population, 900m has been slashed from the prison budget since 2010. Speaking to the Independent in the wake of his disclosures, Leech said: You ve got criminals including arsonists, but also many people with mental health problems. In that atmosphere, governors have to prioritise staff and bluntly, when it comes to unlocking prisoners for medication, food or visits, or conducting fire safety checks, the latter doesn t even come near the top of the list. Such shortcomings would not be tolerated in any other place than in prisons, he added. It is obvious from the shocking reports that I have uncovered that the theory and practice are light-years apart. Continuing Crown Immunity from prosecution for failures in places which have 50 fires a week and which, by necessity detain those with mental health problems and convictions for arson, must now surely end it is simply inexplicable in this day and age. A Prison Services spokesperson said: We take fire safety extremely seriously.

All nineteen prisons have undertaken immediate action to address the recommendations made by the inspection group. Every single prison across the estate has a mandatory annual fire risk assessment, carried out by a fire safety specialist, and individual fire strategies in place which are closely monitored. Cladding The Ministry of Justice insists that none of its prisons have the type of cladding believed to have been used at Grenfell Tower. In 2015, the National Offender Management Service published Fire Safety in Prison Establishments , which outlines the requirements on the Responsible Person under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 with regards to providing a fire safety compliant environment in Public Sector Prisons. In July last year, Clive Webster, a senior fire consultant from BB7, wrote on IFSEC Global that the prison service would benefit from formalising its fire-risk-management system using PAS 7: 2013 Fire Risk Management System Specification . Published in 2013, PAS 7: 2013 Fire Risk Management System Specification emerged from a steering group that included representatives from CFOA, The Institution of Fire Engineers, The Fire Sector Federation and the Association of British Insurers. Using PAS 7 2013 it is possible to improve fire safety while achieving process improvements and reducing the cost of compliance overtime, wrote Webster.

At a time when purse strings have never been tighter and the need to improve fire safety has never been so high on the agenda, PAS 7 could provide the solution to the problems highlighted by the media.

PAS 7 presents requirements for an organisational fire risk management system (FRMS), which can be applied in organizations operating across multiple sites, separate management divisions within an organization, or individual premises within a single entity, Ben Bradford, MD of BB7, wrote in 2014.

Why has a life-changing industry been ignored?

Private Eye s FIREX cartoon

Britain s leading satirical magazine reveals conversations overheard at FIREX International following the fire at Grenfell Tower. Asking Why has a life-chaning industry been ignored , the cartoon provides is a cross-section of industry opinion about Grenfell and its causes. Some of the anonymous quotations from visitors and exhibitors include: We push for adequate regulations and are basically told as long as we re only killing 300 people a year in ones and twos they won t happen Austerity hasn t decided not to review approved document B, it s been the de-regulatory environment at the DCLG of the last 30 years You do an inspection and say what s not right but you re dealing with so many levels of command, each squeezed of funds, that eventually they don t do anything.

The cartoon is part of a feature chronicling how residents of Grenfell have been let down by Kensington & Chelsea Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and building regulations. Read more in the latest issue of Private Eye. Visit FIREX International for cutting-edge solutions, essential knowledge and the ability to grow your business by getting direct access to the whole fire safety industry. It is the perfect place to get your product in front of thousands of buyers, across a multitude of featured areas. From the brand new Drone Zone, the ARC Village, ASFP Passive Protection Zone, the Engineers of Tomorrow competition and more, it s all under one roof so you ll never miss a beat.

Click here to register your place now to join us at London Excel on 20 22 June

All 75 high-rises tested in wake of Grenfell tragedy fail fire safety standards

Grenfell fire Photo: Brandon Butterworth under CC4.0 The government has said cladding on 75 buildings in 26 council areas had now failed fire safety tests every single panel tested so far. And the US firm that supplied cladding used on London s Grenfell Tower says it has ended global sales of the product for use in high-rise blocks. Arconic said it was discontinuing sales of Reynobond PE for tower blocks due to issues identified by the fire, which is feared to have killed at least 79.

Fire safety tests are taking place on the fire resistance of cladding on up to 600 buildings following the Grenfell Tower fire in north Kensington on 14 June. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said all buildings examined so far had failed the test. Councils were told to prioritise buildings they had most concern over. Communities secretary, Sajid Javid, has said all hospitals and schools had also been asked to carry out immediate checks . The original article was published on our sister site, SHP Online. Visit FIREX International for cutting-edge solutions, essential knowledge and the ability to grow your business by getting direct access to the whole fire safety industry. It is the perfect place to get your product in front of thousands of buyers, across a multitude of featured areas.

From the brand new Drone Zone, the ARC Village, ASFP Passive Protection Zone, the Engineers of Tomorrow competition and more, it s all under one roof so you ll never miss a beat.

Click here to register your place now to join us at London Excel on 20 22 June

Number of high-rises failing fire safety tests grows

Grenfell fire Tests are taking place on the fire resistance of cladding on up to 600 buildings following the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington on 14 June. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said all buildings examined so far had failed the test. Most concern Councils were told to prioritise buildings they had most concern over.

Not all the buildings affected have so far been named but a list from the DCLG identifies 14 of the areas: 1. Camden five buildings 2. Brent one 3. Barnet three 4. Hounslow one 5. Islington one 6. Lambeth one 7. Wandsworth two 8. Manchester four 9.

Norwich one 10. Plymouth three 11. Portsmouth two 12. Doncaster one 13. Sunderland five 14. Stockton-on-Tees three Separately, cladding is to be removed from nine tower blocks in Salford, while Bootle said two buildings had cladding that failed tests. The update came as Camden Council said it had told about 200 residents still refusing to vacate four of its tower blocks on the Chalcots estate that they must leave to allow improvement works to go ahead. The majority of the residents of the four buildings were evacuated on Friday night. The cladding on the buildings in the Chalcots estate is similar to Grenfell Tower where the fire is feared to have killed 79 people.

Chalcots was refurbished between 2006 and 2009 by the firm, Rydon; the same firm that oversaw work at Grenfell Tower in 2015-16. The government testing programme began on 21 June with the local authorities asked to submit cladding for examination. Patrols The Local Government Association (LGA) said some councils have introduced 24-hour warden patrols to mitigate the risk before cladding is removed. It said in a statement: Where cladding fails the test, this will not necessarily mean moving residents from tower blocks. In Camden, the decision to evacuate was based on fire inspectors concerns about a combination of other fire hazards together with the cladding. The LGA said it was advising councils still waiting for results of tests to prepare contingency plans so they can take any measures needed quickly . Immediate testing Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the Grenfell Tower fire started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer within a flat on the fourth floor; the government has ordered immediate testing of the appliance. Police said the fire had not been started deliberately and the speed with which the fire spread was unexpected . Anyone who has a white Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP or graphite fridge freezer model number FF175BG have been advised to register their appliance with the manufacturer to receive any updates.

The original article was published on our sister site, SHP Online Visit FIREX International for cutting-edge solutions, essential knowledge and the ability to grow your business by getting direct access to the whole fire safety industry. It is the perfect place to get your product in front of thousands of buyers, across a multitude of featured areas. From the brand new Drone Zone, the ARC Village, ASFP Passive Protection Zone, the Engineers of Tomorrow competition and more, it s all under one roof so you ll never miss a beat.

Click here to register your place now to join us at London Excel on 20 22 June

Grenfell Tower: Regulations MUST change .

Fire industry and world media unite at FIREX 2017

Building regulations must be reassessed as part of the inquiry into the Grenfell tower fire, according to a panel of experts at FIREX International. In an emotional debate, which begun with a one-minute silence to commemorate the victims, Dennis Davis of the Fire Sector Federation (FSF) said the industry was creating the legacy for the next 50 years following the Grenfell tower fire. To a crowd of journalists and TV cameras he said: Time and time and time again, we are desperately worried about our building regulations, in particularly the approved documents falling behind what is going on within the built environment.

We must get over this.

2006 is the last review. Ten years is too long a gap, far too long a gap if you consider how much constriction and building has changed. The determination has to be as a sector that we ask very, very deep, searching questions how could this happen in our country, at this time? Special @itvnews report filmed at #FIREX2017. Fire industry condemn a failing safety culture and how it must be fixed. #GrenfellTower pic.twitter.com/gDBOyAvFZj IFSEC Global Editor (@ifsecglobal) June 23, 2017 Worrying trends Jim Glocking, Fire Protection Association, said the industry was seeing worrying trends associated with fires but was struggling enormously to get its voice heard. He said that the situation with central government was very difficult as there was no timeframe and you couldn t imagine holding the Olympics and not telling athletes when to be ready yet that is the situation we find ourselves in. Steve Seaber of the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, said that there needed to be more regular reviews of legislation like in Australia, where it happened once a year. He said: We also need to make sure that regulatory changes are reflected in other parts of regulations. Misinformation Stephen MacKenzie, international fire risk and emergency planning expert, said there was an awful lot of misinformation and we needed to learn from the lessons of the past, as well as political responses.

He said: We need to look not just at regulations but at emergency and disaster responses from local and central government. We are see an erosion of fire research capacities in the UK need to look at longer-term secure funding streams. Cladding Niall Rowan of the Association for Specialist Fire Protection was one of the only panellists to make an outright comment about the cladding, often cited as a claimed cause of the extensive fire, saying it seems to have failed spectacularly . He said: I witnessed a number of videos from passers-by but I don t put a scapegoat on the cladding panels, there was also the foam we need to look at the whole system. He claimed though the panels weren t permitted under Approval Document B but that one of the desktop studies where they could be used, through a Building Control alliance of the local authority, inspectors and other bodies, could allow for them to be used. Although the panels aren t permitted, there is a very sophisticated test the desktop study that can be used, and that some of these haven t been as rigorous as they should have been. Rowan agreed though there was a lot of supposition about the fire, but that it was tombstone legislation that caused it unfortunately it takes somethings like this to make a difference. Skills Martin Harvey, Fire Industry Association, said there was also a real issue about competency skills and knowledge of the people installing fire protection systems. He said: You just need a man and a white van and he s suddenly an expert in installing fire systems.

Summing up, Harvey said that the most important element of the inquiry was that lessons must be learnt unlike the Lakanal House fire.

Fire industry Desperately worried building regulations have fallen behind @BBCTheOneShow report from #FIREX2017 #GrenfellTower pic.twitter.com/PwGMSg49If IFSEC Global Editor (@ifsecglobal) June 23, 2017 This article was also published on SHP Online.

Grenfell fire presentations added to FIREX 2017 programme

FIREX 2017 Two seminars examining the Grenfell tower tragedy have been added to the FIREX Expertise & Guidance Theatre. Details are as follows: Tuesday 20 June, 12.00-12.50 Grenfell Tower: Why building regulations need to be reviewed Speakers: Steve Seaber British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association Tom Roche Fire Sector Federation Built Environment Issues & Affairs Workstream Chair Martin Harvey Fire Industry Association Niall Rowan Association for Specialist Fire Protection Stephen MacKenzie International Fire Risk, Security Aspects and Emergency Planning Independent Consultant Thursday 22 June, 15.00-15.50 Reflections on the FIREX community s reactions to Grenfell Tower Speakers: Stephen MacKenzie, International Fire Risk, Security Aspects and Emergency Planning Independent Consultant Plus a panel of senior industry stakeholders For the second session, which is the final seminar of FIREX 2017, the audience will be asked to write down their 5-10 key priorities for the fire sector. IFSEC Global will collate the results, write a feature and send it to the public enquiry.

There will also be a drop-in session in the FPA Infozone where people can ask the experts about anything about the Grenfell fire and fire safety in general. This runs on Thursday 22 June between 12.00-14.00. View the full FIREX agenda here. FIREX International takes place between 20-22 June 2017 at London ExCeL. Get your free badge now. Visit FIREX International for cutting-edge solutions, essential knowledge and the ability to grow your business by getting direct access to the whole fire safety industry. It is the perfect place to get your product in front of thousands of buyers, across a multitude of featured areas.

From the brand new Drone Zone, the ARC Village, ASFP Passive Protection Zone, the Engineers of Tomorrow competition and more, it s all under one roof so you ll never miss a beat.

Click here to register your place now to join us at London Excel on 20 22 June

London fire: Community group warned that catastrophic event was likely

Grenfell tower fire A number of fatalities have been reported after fire tore through a 24-storey London tower block in the early hours of the morning. Forty fire engines and 200 firefighters battled the blaze at Grenfell Tower, which comprises 120 flats, in Latimer Road, White City in West London. Eyewitnesses have described harrowing scenes where people trapped inside the burning building screamed for their children to be saved.

In one instance a baby was caught by a member of the public having been dropped from the 10 th floor. Although the number of fatalities has not been confirmed it looks likely that this morning s fire will comfortably surpass the 2009 Lakanal House blaze, which claimed the lives of six people and injured 20, as London s worst tower block fire in modern times. The fire at the 14-storey Lakanal House has cast a long shadow over UK fire safety. In March, Southwark council was fined 570,000 after accepting it had flouted several fire safety regulations. All local authorities were ordered to review fire safety measures at high-rise blocks in the wake of the tragedy. Residents from blocks surrounding Grenfell Tower are being evacuated as firefighters continue trying to contain the flames pic.twitter.com/NNmJ25UukZ Alice Ross (@aliceross_) June 14, 2017 Last year we reported on a spate of high-rise fires in Dubai, but there were no fatalities in each instance. Despite an internationally favourable fire safety record, the UK clearly has no reason for complacency. Built in 1974, Grenfell Tower recently completed a two-year 10m refurbishment. Improvements included new exterior cladding.

The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) manages the tower on behalf of the council. In a chillingly prescient blog published in November 2016, The Greenfell Action Group, appeared to predict that tragedy was all but inevitable. Excoriating the KCTMO for neglecting its fire-safety obligations it wrote: It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders. We believe that the KCTMO are an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of looking after the every day management of large-scale social housing estates and that their sordid collusion with the RBKC Council is a recipe for a future major disaster. A residents group for Grenfell Tower says these “stay put” fire advice posters were put up in March this year.#LondonFire #NorthKensington pic.twitter.com/JEIlV2oQBi Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) June 14, 2017 Unfortunately, the Grenfell Action Group have reached the conclusion that only an incident that results in serious loss of life of KCTMO residents will allow the external scrutiny to occur that will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation. We believe that the KCTMO have ensured their ongoing survival by the use of proxy votes at their Annual General Meeting that see them returned with a mandate of 98% in favour of the continuation of their inept and highly dangerous management of our homes. It is no coincidence that the 98% is the same figure that is returned by the infamous Kim Jong-un of North Korea who claims mass popularity while reputedly enslaving the general population and starving the majority of his people to death.

Read the rest of this blog post here.