Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

How Building Standards Failed London's Grenfell Tower

Fire safety experts are rushing to explain the horrific scene in London's Kensington neighborhood last night—after a fire destroyed a residential high rise. The building was recently retrofitted to meet efficiency standards.
June 14, 2017, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments
London Fire
Natalie Oxford

Oliver Wainwright and Peter Walker write: "'A disaster waiting to happen,' is how the architect and fire expert Sam Webb describes hundreds of tower blocks across the UK, after the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington that has left at least six people dead." [As of this writing, the fatality total has reached 12, but it is expected to increase.]

Webb is a leading expert on fire safety after surveying residential tower blocks for a report to the Home Office in the early 1990s. At the time, more than half of hundreds of buildings didn't meet basic fire safety standards.

"I really don’t think the building industry understands how fire behaves in buildings and how dangerous it can be. The government’s mania for deregulation means our current safety standards just aren’t good enough," Webb is quoted saying in the article.

A terrible aspect of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, according to another source cited in the article, "is the flammability of insulation panels that are being used to clad postwar buildings to bring them up to date with today’s thermal standards." Grenfell Tower recently underwent a "£8.7m refurbishment of Grenfell Tower saw the building clad with 'ACM cassette rainscreen' panels, an aluminium composite material covering insulation panels, which could have caused the fire to spread more quickly up the facade of the tower."

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 in The Guardian
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email