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Grenfell Inquiry Looks into Design Images

Monday, July 30, 2018

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The inquiry into last year’s deadly Grenfell Tower fire continues as officials are now looking at photos of the London high-rise's refurbishment.

What Happened

In recent weeks, the inquiry has heard testimonies from multiple firefighters who were called to the scene last June and recounted their efforts to save those trapped within the tower.

One firefighter described how the smoke was behaving in a way the crew wasn’t trained for, that it was seeping into some areas and wasn’t in other areas where it would be expected.

“I was shocked by conditions on [the] 16th floor lobby when I got there,” said crew manager Jarnal Stern. “I checked some lobbies on the way up and there was no smoke and the stairwell was clear.

“It shocked me that 12 floors above the [fourth floor where the fire started] there was smoke at that density and at that speed. It made no sense to me. You should not get that kind of smoke in a lobby, the compartmentalization of flats should stop it.”

Firefighter Harry Bettinson testified saying he had been trained on dealing with block fires, but had no training on what to do when compartmentalization failed and also had no training with burning cladding.

Richard Hippel, another firefighter from Kensington, said that as soon as he came upon the scene he could see smoke coming from “what looked like vents” above the tower entrance. This caused officials to ask for photos from Studio E Architects, the firm responsible for the tower’s recent refurbishment.

Studio E was one of the core participant firms that was heavily criticized just last month for refusing to give a statement to the council.

“The corporates’ silence deprives the families of the degree of resolution and understanding to which they are entitled, and has only served to increase their pain and uncertainty,” said Stephanie Barwise of the Queen’s Council at the time.

“Despite their words of condolence to the victims, these corporates have no desire to assist this inquiry, even though their participation could save lives in the immediate future.”

So far, the inquiry has heard seven days’ worth of commemoration hearings from victims and families, eight days’ worth of investigation into the fire itself and 21 days’ worth of firefighter testimonies. There is no timetable currently set for the rest of the investigation.


Tagged categories: Cladding; Fire; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; Safety

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