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How could the Fire Safety be so bad?

Grenfell Inquiry: Experts slam fire safety practices leading up to tragedy

Experts have told the Grenfell Tower inquiry that there were a litany of serious fire safety breaches at the tower, including over 100 non-compliant fire doors, a fire fighting lift that didn’t work and a “stay put” policy that totally failed.

There was “a culture of non-compliance” at the tower which contained more combustible material than previously thought, fire safety experts revealed, on the first full day of evidence.

This included flammable parts to the window frames that spread the fire to the external cladding within 15 minutes of the first 999 call, at just before 12.54am from a householder whose fridge freezer appeared to be alight.

The inquiry also heard how risers intended to channel water to the upper floors of the building where most people died, failed to work properly and that a system for extracting smoke from lobby areas on each floor did not work either and did not meet building regulations.

“Thick black smoke” prevented firefighters from being able to use lobbies as a bridgehead or search base and would have prevented residents from leaving their flats.

A statement was read out to the inquiry by the commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Dany Cotton, who was on the scene at Grenfell before 3.00am.

She said: “I have never seen a building where the whole of it was on fire, nobody has ever seen that, it was incredible, it was so alien to anything I had ever seen.”

Five expert reports into the fire, its spread and the regulatory environment, were published alongside Millett’s opening remarks.

Jose Torero, academic and fire safety expert, came to a damning conclusion about the building regulation system, stating that “systems that introduce obvious dangers can be incorporated by designers in a routine manner.”

Prof Lane was equally damning about the cladding that was fitted to Grenfell as part of the refurbishment, which she said was “non-compliant with the functional requirement of the building regulations”.

Another expert fire engineer, Colin Todd, said that it appeared the aluminium composite cladding material used on Grenfell and over 300 other residential towers in England had never been subject to a full scale British Standard fire test.

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