• International Workplace
  • 30 October 2019

Grenfell tower tragedy – first official inquiry report published

A “damning” 1,000-page report into the Grenfell Tower fire has been published today, criticising the London Fire Brigade’s response to the fire that claimed 72 lives in June 2017.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, author of the report, has made a series of 16 recommendations in the report, many of which will be of interest to landlords and owners of high-rise buildings.

The report’s findings include:

  • Owners of high-rise buildings must be required by law to regularly draw up evacuation plans, and to share them with the local fire authority.
  • To prevent any confusion over whether to ‘stay put’ or leave a burning building, it recommends that all high-rise buildings be fitted with an evacuation signal.
  • Work to remove dangerous cladding from more than 400 high-rise buildings must be sped up, criticising the lack of progress in stripping buildings of the combustible material since the tragedy occurred.
  • All owners of high-rise buildings should be legally compelled to check their fire doors every three months – many of the fire doors in the tower did not close automatically as designed because they were broken or damaged.

This is the first report of a two-stage inquiry into the event, which itself has been criticised for investigating the response to the fire first, rather than the cause.

The Local Government Association’s spokeman, Lord Porter, said:

“The inquiry has made a fundamental error by examining the response to the fire before examining its causes. It is clear that the fire was caused by a catastrophic failure of the building safety system in England. This has been proven by the number of public and private buildings with flammable material and the number of modern buildings which are behaving in unexpectedly dangerous ways when they catch fire. Reform of this broken system cannot come soon enough.

“Government has to ensure that any new regulatory system not only covers high rise residential buildings, but extends to any building where vulnerable people sleep, like hospitals, care homes and residential schools.”

The main reason why flames shot up the side of the 24-storey block at such speed was the aluminium composite material (ACM) rainscreen panels with a flammable polyethylene core, which “acted as a source of fuel”, the report claims.

Its rapid spread was also accelerated by the insulation boards behind the cladding panels and the window surrounds, both of which had combustible materials.

All of these features were added during a refurbishment of the building several months before the fire.