Grenfell Report Phase 1 Seeks to Blame the Firefighters 232

One simple fact cannot be hidden. The firefighters did not cause the fire. Phase 1 of Judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s report of the public inquiry into the Grenfell disaster has been released to relatives prior to publication tomorrow. According to the Guardian, it concentrates blame on the firefighters in charge of tackling the blaze. This is an entirely predictable Establishment ploy; blame the little people.

I do not doubt mistakes were made by the firefighters; there will always be well-intentioned errors by those trying to cope with such a terrible crisis. Moore-Bick may be correct in his identification of them. Adherence to the established “stay in your flat” doctrine was disastrously wrong in these circumstances. But the firefighters were not the reason the fire started and spread so quickly. The primary reason was inadequate regulation of the burgeoning fashion for cladding old buildings, and inadequate enforcement of such regulation as was in place.

Moore-Bick may, a couple of years from now, ultimately produce a most damning report of government failings that caused the Grenfell Disaster. But these issues will only be dealt with as Phase 2 of the report, by which time public emotion and recollection will have faded further. I question the methodology of producing an initial report on the events of the night, and a second on the “historical background”, when the “historical background” actually contains the fundamental causes of the tragedy. The second report, when it eventually arrives, will have far less media coverage. The abiding message in the eyes of the duped public will be that the fault lay with the fire brigade.

So let us recall now what really happened.

Deregulation is fundamental to Tory ideology. Speaking specifically on multi-occupation buildings, Fire Minister Bob Neill stated on 16 June 2011:

Over the years, regulations – and the inspections and bureaucracy that go
with them – have piled up and up. This has hurt business, imposing real
burdens and doing real damage to our economy. Reducing the number
of rules and regulations is therefore absolutely central to the Coalition
Government’s vision for Britain, removing barriers to economic growth and
increasing individual freedoms. We have given a clear commitment that where
regulation cannot be justified, we will remove it.

That is one of many examples of vital context given in an excellent pamphlet by the Fire Brigades Union. It is the background to the government’s continued failure over years to address the need for new regulation of developments in cladding.

After six people died due to combustible cladding in the Lakamal House fire of 2009, Tory Minister Eric Pickles’ instinct was to use this disaster to reduce regulation; “My department is committed to a programme of simplification of building regulations”. In the seven years between that statement and the Grenfell fire, the coalition government had still done precisely nothing on cladding regulation.

Meantime, Boris Johnson as Mayor of London was taking an axe to the London Fire Service, closing twelve fire stations. Firemen involved in regulation and inspection were particularly cut. Johnson effectively reduced the number of firemen involved in operational regulation enforcement by half. Total fire brigade staff were reduced by a quarter.

This is the essential background to any criticism of the operational performance of the fire brigade.

Finally, the owners of the building, Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council – arguably the UK’s wealthiest council – bear ultimate responsibility for repeated failures to address fire safety concerns and for putting flammable cladding on the building in order to improve its appearance for the benefit of wealthy neighbours in the surrounding streets. A council planning document made plain that it was clad for the neighbours’ benefit, not that of the residents, “to accord with the development plan by ensuring that the character and appearance of the area are preserved and living conditions of those living near the development suitably protected”. The aim of the cladding was to disguise the existence of accommodation perceived as for poor people.

I have not previously blogged much about Grenfell because I have a distaste for disaster journalism. But if public perception grows that the disaster was the fault of the firefighters, that would be an outrage.


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232 thoughts on “Grenfell Report Phase 1 Seeks to Blame the Firefighters

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  • Jon Musgrave

    Totally agree, the firefighters are going to be blamed and the council/government will scuttle away to avoid blame.

    • djm


      what you’re saying is

      Another institution has to be sacrificed at the altar of woke political correct virtue signalling and we need to give another generation of Lammys and Abbotts a raison d’etre ?

      • gwp3

        I think what he is saying is that another generation of Pickles and Johnson is being let off the hook.

      • Disinterested Bystander

        Congratulations djm, you’ve just got yourself a full house on your Fascist buzzwords bingo card. Would you like a Klansman outfit or a cuddly toy as your prize?

  • djm

    No mention of your blessed EU Directives ensuring that flammable cladding covered the outside of the building…or the Council itself was Labour led ?

    • craig Post author


      The council was not Labour led and there are no EU directives specifying the use of flammable cladding. That really is a pathetic propaganda effort.

      • djm

        Craig. Emma Dent Coad is of course the Laba Party Member of Parliament for Kensington, She is also a councillor for Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council, elected in 2006 & has held the following posts :

        Kensington and Chelsea TMO, the tenant management organisation which manages the council’s housing stock, from 27 June 2008 to 31 October 2012 (council appointed). Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee in 2013/14. Planning Applications Committee from May 2013 to June 2017. Planning Committee since June 2014 to June 2017. London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

        If you investigate further, you will find that gold plating of EU Directives is all over the cladding issue

        Kind regards

        • TM

          Emma Dent Coad was elected as MP a year after the Grenfell disaster, replacing Victoria Borthwick. Before that, it was a safe Tory seat. The council itself was controlled by the Conservatives since 1964, naming one individual who left the KCTMO board before the renovation of Grenfell and characterising that as ‘controlling the council’ is mendacious in the extreme.

          • TM

            @Alex Westlake – Yes, apologies, I screwed up on the date there, but the overall point stands that she cannot be used as a proxy to scapegoat Labour in a Conservative-led council.

        • Iain Stewart

          “If you investigate further, you will find that gold plating of EU Directives is all over the cladding issue”

          Jings! Could you possibly fill out that tantalising hint with some detail? Those of us who work in the construction industry would be grateful to catch up on something so important that must have slipped past our feeble attention. The late lamented ‘Blunderbuss’ once informed us all here that the English building regulations were really written in Brussels, before admitting his… blunder in the face of elementary facts (like the absence of Continental plugs).

          • glenn_uk

            Blunderbust admitted it?? I’m shocked. I thought he just waved his arms around, blew smoke, and then beat a hasty retreat muttering about religion when confronted by facts – even facts concerning his ownhand-picked references, which he clearly never bothered to actually read himself, because they invariably showed the very opposite of what he claimed.

            That’s when he wasn’t running to teacher, claiming some Bad People were threatening to kill him, because some innocuous poster had attempted something really horrible, like reasoning with him. What a snowflake!

          • Mazunga

            It’s a long read, but the takeaway is near the end:

            “Putting this together, had the EU made the use of enhanced insulation in buildings conditional on the application of tougher fire tests – which was within its power to do – instead of blocking national attempts to make such testing mandatory, then one can state, without equivocation, that the Grenfell Tower fire would not have occurred. The evidence is there for those that wish to see it.”


          • Iain Stewart

            Bizarre, this guy saying rockwool ‘absorbs water like blotting paper’. The combustible at Grenfell was the aluminium skin, not the insulation (which was there to reduce heating costs, not to obey some EU diktat).

    • TM

      @DJM The council has been controlled by the Conservative Party since 1964, why such a pointless, easily disproved lie?

      There was a lucky escape in the Shepherds Court fire a year before Grenfell, and nobody learned their lesson. People were warning the tenant management organisation about the dangerous situation they would be in if there was a fire, but nobody listened.

    • different frank

      If I had to choose between your brain and Einstein’s, I would choose yours, as it is new and unused.

    • N_

      Haha, @djm – You think Kensington and Chelsea was Labour-led in 2017? Have you ever been to that part of the world? The borough council has had a Tory majority ever since the borough was created.

    • John Pillager

      I remember reading somewhere (anyone help?) that the landlord organisation had repeated troubles in that block with electrical power surges which damaged electrical appliances in the flats….many times, leading up to the disaster.

        • John Pillager

          “Continuous Power Surges in Grenfell Tower

          There have been two weeks of power surges in the building, most notably in the early hours of the morning and throughout the evening and night time. Electronic apparatus are seriously affected by these surges. Computers are turned on and off, lights continually flicker becoming very dim and extremely bright in the space of a few seconds.

          On 11th May 2013 at 9:05pm we had numerous power surges in the space of a minute, and in that process my computer and monitor literally exploded with smoke seeping out from the back and the smell of burnt electronics filled our entire computer. My monitor also fused at the same time. When I called the TMO out of hours service the standard textbook response was given to us that I was the first one to report such a problem and I was made to feel like a fool reporting such an issue, which resulted in years of data being lost forever.

          Please note if the power surges continue at Grenfell Tower, it would be very dangerous and costly because it is interfering with electric and electronic items in the household, including the telephone line, television, fridge, washing machine, computer etc”.

          • Loony

            What do you think causes power surges?

            Once you have answered that question then ask why you would call a TMO regarding such a problem, and ask what a TMO could possibly do about it. Why would be reasonable to suppose that a TNO would know more or less about power surges and their causation than a tenant would know?

          • Royd

            ‘What do you think causes power surges?

            ‘Once you have answered that question then ask why you would call a TMO regarding such a problem, and ask what a TMO could possibly do about it. Why would be reasonable to suppose that a TNO would know more or less about power surges and their causation than a tenant would know?’

            I’d suggest that the TMO didn’t need to know the ‘in’s and out’s’ of such a problem but I would expect that they would take it seriously in terms of the risk it might pose to one or more flats and tenants therein. The scale of the problem should have been assessed by the TMO and the associated risk. Appropriate action should then have been authorised by either the TMO or the Council.

          • Bayard

            “Once you have answered that question then ask why you would call a TMO regarding such a problem, and ask what a TMO could possibly do about it.”

            Er, call an electrician to look into it?

  • Alasdair Macdonald

    This is a classic authority ploy of leaking parts of the report which cast suspicion upon other ‘players’, to distract attention from the real culprits. And, of course the mainstream media, with the BBC in the van, have amplified the “FIREMEN TO BLAME!” trope.

    I was head teacher of three different secondary schools over a 20 year period – all were relatively modern build – and our evacuation drills, included how to react if evacuation routes were blocked. Mostly, this involved using alternative routes, but, in some cases, the advice was to remain in classrooms with the door closed. The classrooms were hollow concrete boxes and the doors were able to withstand flame for up to an hour. The doors also had inserts which expanded in the heat to fill the gaps between door and frame to reduce inflow of smoke.

    Of course, these procedures had evolved over years largely as a result of trade union action (even HTs are trade union members!!) and a regular programme of examining the building and having repairs carried out promprly. These things take time and money and commitment.

    At Grenfell, I suspect the report will tell us, these things were neglected.

    However, the media have blamed the Firefighters. We must support the Grenfell survivors’ demands and the FBU. This tragedy is the result of privatisation and deregulation, in favour of ‘maximising shareholder returns’, and treating residents like subhuman scum.

  • different frank

    Rather than take residents’ concerns seriously, in November 2016 the Council sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the complainants, stating that they were frightening residents.

    Six months later a fridge now deemed so dangerous it has been withdrawn from sale burst into flames, and fire services were called. Unknown to them the fire had burnt through a UPVC window frame and flames had begun to tear up the building fuelled by a devastating combination of flammable insulation and flammable cladding. Then –

    The stair lighting failed.
    The smoke vents failed.
    The fire doors failed.
    The fire breaks between floors failed.
    Badly fitting UPVC windows blazed and emitted deadly gases.
    The insulation and cladding failed, due to their combustibility and to poorly fitted breaks and gaps which acted like a chimney.
    The gas supply could not be turned off for 18 hours.
    And the ‘value engineered’ insulation (now banned) and cladding combination described as ‘solid petrol’ raged for hours.
    The devasting fire that had been predicted by residents turned a concrete frame building with fire safe compartmentation, where ‘Stay Put’ policy had worked for 40 years, into a 24 storey bonfire.

    Into this nightmare, firefighters had to work to save lives with equipment inadequate for a combination of disastrous errors that should never have been allowed. They went in untrained for a disaster that should never have happened.
    Source: Grenfell Action Group

    • TM

      My mother still lives in the area, and I grew up there since we fled to the UK as refugees. The residents are very aware that these high rises are death traps, and they’ve been talking about it for years. They have been complaining to the management organisations for years. There is a deep mistrust that the media will help the government and local council sweep all of this under the carpet. The residents have been doing a silent walk on the 14th of every month since it happened; you will see FBU members at these marches, keeping the memory of those who died and respectfully calling for justice, not scapegoating.

      • Rhys Jaggar

        The fact is that the council wants to socially cleanse poorer people but cannot afford adverse publicity by being unsubtle. So for the council, anything which makes poor people feel unwelcome, desperate, disenfranchised is to be welcomed….

    • Oliver Williams

      That is a very accurate summary of the technical causes of the fire and how it spread.
      I would add that the self certification aspect of cladding systems by the contractor should be banned. Building control and firemen should be given back the responsibility that has been removed from them over the years. The cutting of these services has contributed to the current situation of unsafe cladfing systems in place on otherwise safe buildings.

    • Coldish

      Thanks, different frank,for that excellent summary. May I single out the expression “…fuelled by a devastating combination of flammable insulation and flammable cladding” as being key to accounting for the disaster?
      The central and essential question which must be asked is “Why was this combination ever used on the exterior of a building tall enough for the upper stories to be out of reach of the fire fighting equipment available?”

  • Monster

    While the fire brigade had no role in the cause of the fire, they had an obligation to save lives. They did not even attempt to do this and were, allegedly, hamstrung by rules and directives from above. The broadcast videos showed them hanging around casually watching the slow deaths of people in front of them. Following orders has never been an excuse to oversee the death and suffering of people (Nuremberg 1946 et al)

    • TM

      This is completely false, the fire brigade were up and down the building in extreme conditions and guided many people out. If they were standing outside casually watching people die, why did the local residents applaud them?

    • DGM

      Where do you get this rubbish! Maybe you saw exhausted firefighters resting after doing a stint in the building, or, maybe, you saw crews waiting to be ordered in to give relief to those coming out. Firemen are trained to follow orders, disciplin is essential for the safety of everyone. Your equating their actions with Nuremberg is a a shameful and disgusting slur.

    • D_Majestic

      This is utter tripe, whether you realise it or not. The main problem was a lack of sprinklers. Which are fitted widely in hotels and other buildings in America. The fire brigade would have been able to respond far more effectively given better equipment and more personnel. Again, as available in the USA.

    • Andyoldlabour


      Your name describes you well, you are absolutely disgusting. I hope that you never have to rely on the fire services.

  • Gary

    I’ve seen the news coverage, and the sheep-like compliance with the party line that they have given. I’m shocked, there seems to be no genuine attempt at journalism from our news sources these days.

    Grenfell is an open and shut case. They took a concrete building, something which is safe in a fire as it can’t possibly burn and they encased it in combustible materials which ensured that no one could survive. IF the firefighters had known this in advance they WOULD have evacuated but this vital piece of information did not need to be notified.

    The council itself is partly to blame for substituting materials part way through the renovations but the government is ultimately to blame for allowing hazardous materials to be used.

    But, as usual, by limiting scope, using ‘clever’ devices about how the enquiry is dealt with and an extremely tame press will help the government avoid any adverse publicity on this, yet again.

    And it’s not just on THIS, it seems every scandal is dealt with using the same blueprint. But our press always complies, for some strange reason they seem to have all agreed not to report on this with any type of journalistic scrutiny. Makes the very idea of a ‘free press’ a joke.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      The ‘free press’ you talk about disappeared before 9/11. The Press is now a whorehouse of Presstitutes, who will pretty much write anything to order.

      Brexit, climate change, wars, fires, 9/11, you name it: the MSM has done anything but tell the truth.

      I use the term scribblers to describe them, although I guess that typists is more accurate in the modern age.

      The word journalist is no longer applicable in the UK.

      • Charly PB

        I would say there are some rare exceptions, but what you say applies to most of them.

        No free press, no democracy.

  • Anthony

    “In the seven years between [Pickles’] statement and the Grenfell fire, the coalition government had still done precisely nothing on cladding regulation”

    In the final year before Grenfell the Tory housing minister received seven letters from the group of MPs responsible for scrutinising fire safety rules in council blocks, the last landing just 26 days before the inferno. Each of them advised instituting fire-safety measures that would have prevented the Grenfell disaster. The minister ignored all of them.

    That individual was Gavin Barwell, who was appointed and boldly retained by Theresa May as her chief advisor for the remainder of her time in Downing Street. That this was never seen as remotely insensitive/ controversial tells you everything you need to know about the sincerity of Tory and media reaction to the Grenfell Tower disaster.


      • Peter

        Of course, he got rid of some plebs in a high class neighbourhood. Always a good reason for a peerage.

      • kathy

        Its’ a reward same as was given to Cressida dick for ordering the murder of the brazilian electrician after 7/11.
        apologies for the lack of capitals as my computer is acting up.

  • David

    Of course they will blame the firemen and women who risked their own lives to help. Of course its nothing to do with the owners of the building who should be facing corporate manslaughter charges.

    Angry beyond words that the fire brigade is going to take the fall for this. Want to bet that they are lining up some poor firefighter for criminal charges, whilst the owners of the building get away scot free, and probably keep their overpaid jobs.

    You can only hope that most people have the good sense to see through this…. but I fear not.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      Name the owners, then a lynch mob can deliver summary justice if firefighters are hung out to dry.

      Expecting the Government to act honorably died a death in about 1986…..

  • bevin

    This is a classic election issue. The history of the tragedy and its context exemplify the nature of the social crisis in the UK. The fact that Johnson was primarily responsible for crippling the Fire Brigade’s abilities to anticipate and to respond is inescapable. There is even video of him, I believe, trivialising the importance of the Fire Brigades, while enforcing budget cuts of precisely the kind that he proposes for the country as a whole.
    Grenfell was social murder.

  • Republicofscotland

    Good article Craig and yeah Johnson and the Tories in general are on a mission to cut and privatise, (whilst Labour abstains eternally) if Johnson wins a GE expect more of the same.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    The industry trade magazine ‘Construction Weekly’ reported in its 20/04/2018 edition on a report produced by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) report on the Grenfell fire. BRE, based in Watford, is the leading public sector research establishment on topics relating to the Built Environment.

    The report was commissioned by the Metropolitan Police and clearly assigned blame for the nature of the fire on the refurbishment of the building carried out in 2016.

    The BRE is not some biddable bunch of journalistic scoundrels, it is a professional body tasked with evaluating and reporting on innovations in the construction sector, as well as designing testing regimens for various classes of products.

    So any proper public enquiry should conclude two things:

    1. The fire was caused by policy decisions taken by Kensington and Chelsea Council, leading to installation of unsafe cladding.
    2. The standard advice of ‘remain in your homes’ issued by the Fire Brigade was inappropriate for the kind of fire which ensued.

    The key question is whether the type of fire which ensued could have been predicted and whether stress testing of evacuation policies in the light of knowledge of such fire type would have caused policy to have changed.

    Of course, if by cutting costs you are cutting out safety stress testing for new technologies leaving emergency services to handle a never-before-seen type of blaze without any playbook to follow, you have to ask whether Conservative Ministers and the London mayor knowingly took decisions which could compromise human life and if so, whether charges of culpable homocide are both merited and appropriate.

    The predictions are that the Public Enquiry Head was hired to ensure Conservative Ministers will be in the clear as will Conservative Councillors.

    Clearly, Public Enquiries have no merit if Ministers are appointing officials when their chums may end up in the proverbial dock. They will make appointments in the narrow interests of their chums, not the public interest.

    I am minded to suggest that Tory donors, not the taxpayer, should underwrite such flawed procedures.

    Taxpayers should only underwrite enquiries which serve the public interest….

    • Rhys Jaggar

      Who cares about bad language when people are dead? The woman reporter should hang her head in shame, saying that bad language is inappropriate when dozens of people have been incinerated….

  • Christopher Rogers

    There don’t half seem to be a load of Tory propagandists espousing crud about who is to blame for the tragedy of Grenfell Towers, that they sully the name of the London Fire Brigade is an utter disgrace. As a reminder, many of our brave firemen and emergency rescue service workers who attended the disaster have severe PTSD, alas, according to TPTB it is all the fault of the firefighters – can’t make this crap up and strange how this crap is being released in time for a General Election.

    Moral of the tale, never, never ever trust the establishment if truth is to be told.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      Well, if a report were released recommending severe censure of Kensington and Chelsea councillors for installing unsafe cladding and asserting that policy decisions by the London Mayor clearly endangered human life through critical cuts to fire safety budgets, then one wonders whether the current PM might find national campaigning somewhat challenging?

      As for Gavin Barwell getting a peerage, it is rather like electing Tony Blair to be the
      pope: the correction citation should have been ‘for services to social cleansing through avoidable mass murder in Kensington and Chelsea….’

      • Rhys Jaggar

        That is an interview that deserves the widest audience going. What an impressive man, would be a much better MP than 90% of the current bunch. More than qualified to be an Independent Councillor.

        It is not much fun in life being a prophet in your own land. I have been there several times, not concerning human deaths, but much of what you see Putin doing in Russia the past 20 years I was talking about for Britain around 2000-2005. I got the usual sneering, stonewalling, trashtalking then people stole my ideas to put in manifestos but not bothering to implement them properly.

        Grenfell is an open and shut case, there is no stonewalling that can stop the truth being available. What is actually required is action against media propaganda which actively seeks to falsify the true picture. When the media are criminalised, they might change. But not before, I fancy…

  • Rob Royston

    TV news watchers seemed to be convinced at one time that a tenant’s faulty fridge had caused the fire. Were they having difficulty getting that to stick and then turned on the firefighters?

  • Doghouse

    These are the depths that our politicians and legal establishment aided and abetted by their media lickspittles em mass.

    It is not possible to imagine the courage and fear riding simultaneously the backs of each of those men and women who entered a towering inferno to save lives. Not even a once in a lifetime fire, a fire never previously encountered or trained for by a service already stretched to snapping.

    Pilloried rather than commended as the press raptors tear into them. Well, it will backfire in a very big way. It’s not like they are scapegoating the police, the public almost without exception think well of the fire service and can see an open and shut case when presented with one.

    Shameful depths our country has fallen to, these politicos and their enablers have turned it into a zoo.

  • Julian

    The tory trolls posting lies are truly revolting human beings.
    I have some personal background knowledge, being involved in London housing campaigns in 2008-11.
    At a conference around 2009 I met some Kensington and Chelsea housing campaigners and we spoke for some time. They were quite clear that the Conservative council and their stooges on the corrupt TMO were cutting corners on safety.
    They were well aware that there was going to be a disaster at some point in the Borough and had been warning the council about it.
    It is disgraceful to blame the Fire Brigade for the loss of life.

      • IMcK

        Pilot error was a significant factor in the 737 Max 8 crashes. It is my belief that failure to make this clear to the public is to avoid a loss of confidence in flying. The same is true of the 2011 (I think) crash of the Air France flight that stalled from 40,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

        • glenn_uk

          Everything I’ve read on the subjects – which comprises quite a few in-depth articles – suggests the exact opposite, and that the automatic system was making the 737 Max dive all the time. They were fighting to stop that happening, but did not turn off that faulty trim control, because they could not have known that was causing it. Where are you reading that it just was pilot error that was to blame?

          Your conclusion that this is being covered up to apparently avoid confidence loss is quite astonishing – rather than one component of one new type of plane, there is widespread incompetence among pilots! But only on this particular model, for this particular type of problem. That’s kind of tough to take seriously.

          • IMcK

            ‘Where are you reading that it just was pilot error that was to blame?’
            My comment was ‘Pilot error was a significant factor’, I don’t think that requires further explanation.

            The auto system (MCAS) was faulted and repeatedly pushing down the nose but a reasonably competent pilot would have seen the repeated stabiliser movements into which MCAS operates. The stabiliser is also the flight surface adjusted by the pilots pitch control trim via the control column thumbswitch. There is a large indication on the stabiliser manual control which would also whirs round when the electro system (via either MCAS or thumswitch) drives it. It is the first place to look. This is exactly what the Lion Air pilots in the preceding flight to the first crash did and then switched out the electric control via the stabiliser cutout switch and used the manual facility for the remainder of the flight.

            That this has apparently not been made clear in all your reading of ‘in depth articles’ supports my conclusion. The 2011 Air france crash where the plane was held stalled from 40,000 ft (by the co-pilot) confused by failure of an air speed indicator, again not made clear to the public, also supports my conclusion.

            A primary purpose of the pilot is to handle an aircraft safely on system failure. In the cases discussed they failed to do so.

    • Anthony

      It’s no accident when the council, the TMO and successive housing ministers were repeatedly warned of the severe risk of fire unless they acted. They all wilfully ignored every warning.

      • remember kronstadt

        as i said, ”no profit” paying for essential social services are a burden on the council’s expenditure

  • Ros Thorpe

    Indeed. Fire fighters would assume that compartmentisation had been preserved through the fire stopping and choice of suitably fire resistant materials as is clearly required by the building regulations. They would also have assumed that the dry risers, fire lifts and fire doors would work effectively. Looks very much like the fire brigade need to get a good understanding of how crap the construction industry is

    • giyane.

      Ros Thorpe

      Modern buildings are made from bent tin and plasterboard. I wouldn’t have used the words construction industry myself. It’s a very tough life , climbing stairs with tools and equipment I freezing buildings with no Windows. Massive pressure on time and deadlines. Other trades desperate to do things under your feet.

      I got on my bike as told by the Tories in 1991.
      Since the I have lived hand to mouth rarely staying on one site as long as a month.
      It saved companies money to hire and fire people like this instead of building up a responsible team. I blame Tory policy.
      Leave us freelance grafters alone!

      • Yr Hen Gof

        My now recently retired brother in law, a time served bricklayer, walked off a site because he was appalled at the standards and quality of work being pursued.
        Although a very experienced bricklayer. like many construction workers he had sufficient knowledge of allied trades to know the difference between good and bad and what should have qualified as passing inspection and what shouldn’t.
        He in no way wished to be associated with the build.
        The development now completed is plagued with problems, power failures/surges, blocked drains, poor fitting doors and windows, leaks and several houses missing loft insulation – it was never fitted.
        Who signed these builds off?
        There has always been shoddy work in the building trade – I know I live in a 1917 example but at least they had an excuse then; good men were elsewhere.
        Today, it’s all about inflating the bottom line and let someone else sort out the problems.

  • Janet

    Craig, you are correct in your disgust at the scapegoating of fire fighters.

    To my knowledge, it is entirely normal and reasonable to have permutations of stay put, phased evacuation, two-stage alarms etc for tall, large or heavily occupied buildings.

    What is not normal is to take a tall building (over 18m) and to coat it in a combustible substance, especially when sleeping people are at risk. How is it reasonable to expect the fire brigade to evacuate down the same stair that they need for fire fighting, especially if landing valves and hoses are on that stair? (Sorry, no detailed knowledge of Grenfell.)

    I’ll list the three main issues at play, in no specific order of importance, thus:

    1. The cladding.
    2. The cladding.
    3. The cladding.

    Remove any of those three causes and there would not have been a disaster.

      • glenn_uk

        Actually the insulation was for that. The cladding was to protect the insulation, and did not have to be made from an inflammable material.

        • Dave

          Is this official the report attributes blame to an electrical fault in a now recalled Whirlpool fridge freezer?

          • glenn_uk

            No actually this was from The Global Warming Policy Forum – a climate change denial website, founded by Nigel Lawson and other fossil-fuel stooges.


            They downplay and obfuscate, mislead and downright lie about the fact of climate change for the benefit of their paymasters in industry (and often are from that industry). They provide misinformation for other denialists, dupes and their useful idiots. I thought you’d like them! Hah! 🙂

          • Bayard

            Oh, what, as opposed to a climate change alarmist websites, founded by Al Gore and other AGW stooges?
            They exaggerate and obfuscate, mislead and downright lie about the fact of climate change for the benefit of their paymasters in the renewable energy industry (and often are from that industry). They provide misinformation for other alarmists, dupes and their useful idiots.

          • glenn_uk

            Jeez, so Barnyard’s another one.

            You must actually believe there’s a worldwide conspiracy of scientists to tell nothing but lies, and all of them are in it for the money – right?

            Prove there’s no man made climate change, no problem, nothing to see here – publish it and get it peer reviewed – and a Nobel prize is yours. No takers? Funny that.

          • Bayard

            “You must actually believe there’s a worldwide conspiracy of scientists to tell nothing but lies”

            It’s not a lie if you believe it to be true.

          • Bayard

            Prove that climate change is man made, publish it and get it peer reviewed by someone other than climate “scientists” – and a Nobel prize is yours. No takers? Funny that!

          • glenn_uk

            Barnyard: You’re a funny guy. Just say the same back!

            Strange thing is, none of your AGW deniers have had a single peer review article published, Why is that? And that overwhelming majority of actual scientists dedicated to the subject agree that AGW is real and an immediate threat. Why do you suppose that actually is the case?

            (Psst… that’s something that you can’t just repeat back, changing the characters around, and imagining you’re being clever and cute. Not if you want to be honest, anyway… so maybe that’s a bit of an ask in your case. )

          • Bayard

            “Strange thing is, none of your AGW deniers have had a single peer review article published, Why is that?”

            For the simple reason that almost all scientists who believe in AGW are “climate scientists”. “Climate scientists” believe in AGW because that is part of their job description. You don’t get a job as a “climate scientist” unless you believe in AGW, because, contrary to what the alarmists like to believe, almost all the organisations that fund research into the climate are ones that believe in AGW. Scientists who aren’t “climate scientists” aren’t going to waste their time publishing papers debunking something that, as far as they are concerned, doesn’t need debunking, because it’s self-evidently false. They have better things to do. In any case, you can’t prove a negative. I could easily disprove your assertion above by finding a single peer-reviewed article showing that the physics behind AGW is incorrect (which it is). However, you would never be able to prove that it is correct, because you would never be able to demonstrate with a 100% probablity that you had exhausted all possibilities of finding such an article.

  • giyane.

    Thanks for saying all this when you are preoccupied with other events. I have worked as a maintenance electrician in student accommodation for the last three years.
    Fridge freezers in communal kitchens have a heavy work load and they pack up quickly , but they don’t often catch fire even though they are the obvious place to shove plastic bags behind.

    G renfell kitchens were in private flats and there had been a recent history of over- voltage which was caused by a main supply burnt- out neutral termination. With no neutral for the single phase to return to at 230 volts the current will try to find other return paths such as one of the other phases at 400 volts. This causes the overvoltages.

    The overvoltages were rectified a few months before the fire by ‘re connecting the main neutral. Many appliances had in the meantime Bern seen to smoke or fail. But normally if everything is working we happy days , and get on with next problem. It seems as though the over voltages of say 320 volts + might have cooked the capacitor in the fridge freezer.
    This is not my idea, I read it a long time ago online.

    What is truly staggering to me as a registered electrician is the willingness of my professional body to support the blame game against the maker of the freezer. Big business scratching eachothers’ backs imho. Anyway thanks for giving the political side a good airing.
    Most tradesmen work under the constraints of managers who nothing except the I own self importance and pay grade.

    • Brianfujisan


      thanks for your professional Input / info.. and for the Plastic bags shoved in the Obvious place tip.. Time to stop doing that myself.

      • giyane.

        Thanks too. Not my original idea, just extracted from the wisdom of some of the seasoned salts on sites who are always happy to answer questions.

    • J

      The power surges were happening from 2013 forward then? The instances I’ve read about began as early as 2013.

      Also, you say “The overvoltages were rectified a few months before the fire by ‘re connecting the main neutral.”

      So had it been disconnected or as you seem to suggest ‘burnt out.’ I assume the surges in 2013 are a separate matter?

  • Bayard

    The question is, who are they trying to kid? This is not the same as blaming people from another country of of a different race: there will always be (far too many) people who are happy to hold such scapegoats to blame, regardless of the flimsiness of the evidence against them. Firefighters are almost universally admired and anyone who is likely to have an opinion on the matter is going to immediately raise exactly the same objections as Craig. The only people who aren’t already regard the Tory council as blameless, so this really is a case of preaching to the choir. The only bonus is that it is such a transparent attempt at misdirection, that it will put more people off voting Tory at the coming election than it will persuade to vote for them.

  • Brianfujisan

    Thanks for Highlighting This Craig.

    As Giyane says, you have other things on your mind

    Many commenters have noted the bbc and media are going along with the UK gov mantra.. The commenter saying Firemen / Women were hanging around doing nothing..Should be ashamed.

    • Orford

      The cause of the rapidity and extent of spread of the fire is more significant- high-rise single-staircase residential buildings rely upon prevention of fire spread from the initial flat/compartment. This mostly worked well until regulations were relaxed in the interests of innovation and cost-cutting. It is a pity that the Commons debate on this tomorrow is likely to be overshadowed by election talk and that it is unlikely that many MP’s will have had time to read the report.

    • Ken Kenn

      I’ve got to chip in here.

      Many years ago I used to fit Upvc windows doors etc.

      I can assure you that if this type of Poly Vinyl Chloride plastic sets on fire the fumes/smoke from the burning of the plastic will kill you in minutes in a confined area.

      In a house fire you can burn wood sofas etc etc but I believe that what kills people is not the fire – it is the fumes.

      If I had any criticism of the fire Brigade it would be this criticism.

      But I think the Fire Brigade acted upon the info that all the flats were self contained concrete cubes and would essentially hold back an internal fire.

      Big problem ,as when the externall fire set off ( they were adamant that the initial fridge fire internally was quashed ) it crept up rapidly up the outside of the building.

      This is not in the plan.

      The advice was relative to an internal fire – not an external one.

      So, ask yourself this:

      If the FB didn’t know that the cladding was so flammable and would burn through the UPVC windows and into the flats would they have advised tenants to stay in their flats?

      Hindsight’s great but these were the agreed rules in place at the time.

      It appears to me that only an internal fire was considered – not an external one in which the FB were probably not consulted about.

      A cock up – but these poor people were incinerated from the outside in – not the inside out.

      So for my money the cladding is the – culprit not the Fire Brigade.

      They knew little about the cladding.

      The Council did and they were responsible for allowing it to be put on.

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