Residents in the west London high-rise block which was engulfed in a massive blaze repeatedly warned that Grenfell Tower was a huge fire risk.
In a blog post from November 2016, Grenfell Action Group accused the building’s landlord the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) of ignoring health and safety legislation on the 24-storey block.
The post, entitled “KCTMO Playing with fire!”, suggests that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, theKCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.”
It goes on to affirm 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.”
According to the residents, the incident was narrowly avoided in 2013, when they experienced power surging which was later found to have been caused by faulty wiring.
In October 2015, after a fire hit another KCTMO property, the 14-storey Adair Tower in North Kensington, the management was handed enforcement orders by the local council compelling them to improve the fire safety in the escape staircases and install self-closing devices on all the tower block’s front doors, the blog says.
Grenfwell Tower had recently been upgraded by Rydon, in a 8.6 million ($11 million) contract as part of a 57 million borough-wide regeneration in the borough.
Improvements included rain screen cladding, curtain wall faade, and replacement windows.
However, pieces of cladding could be seen on the streets, and some residents complained “cheap flammable” plastic cladding was used.
Residents also said they never received proper fire safety instructions from KCTMO, or practice drills. They were only informed by a temporary notice stuck in the lift and one announcement in a recent regeneration newsletter “that they should remain in their flats in the event of fire.”
A blog entry posted after the blaze said:
Watching breaking news about the Grenfell Tower fire catastrophe. Too soon to even guess at numbers of casualties and fatalities.
Regular readers of this blog will know that we have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in RBKC.
ALL OUR WARNINGS FELL ON DEAF EARS and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.
It also listed a series of blog posts showing that concerns about emergency exits and lack of safety procedures were raised as far back as 2012.
A local building expert told LBC he expressed concern over the fire risk at Grenfell Tower two years ago.
“On the stairwells, the doors are not hermetically sealed fire doors,” he said.
“When you have a fire door, you have a door that’s sealed. You do not have soft wood liners, you have hard wood because they take longer to burn in.
“If it’s correctly installed, nothing could get through a fire door for two hours. But the wrong doors for fire doors were there.”
The London Fire Brigade confirmed there have been a number of fatalities in the fire, which occurred in the early hours of Wednesday. As of Wednesday evening, Metropolitan Police confirmed 12 fatalities but the number was expected to rise.
More than 50 patients have been taken to five different hospitals.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said the causes of the fire “will be fully investigated”:
Focus for now is supporting rescue and relief operation. The causes of the fire will be fully investigated and we will keep people informed.
RBKC (@RBKC) June 14, 2017
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