Fire Warning Edition

According to an article in the online magazine, Slate, entitled: Residents warned that London’s Grenfell apartment was a death trap before fire, there were warnings that the building was dangerous. Here’s a quote from the article –

“It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders,” wrote the Grenfell Action Group in a blog post from November. “We believe that the KCTMO are an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of  looking after the everyday management of large-scale social housing estates and that their sordid collusion with the RBKC Council is a recipe for a future major disaster.”

They added, “It is our conviction that a serious fire in a tower block or similar high density residential property is the most likely reason that those who wield power at the KCTMO will be found out and brought to justice!”

It appears their fears of a catastrophic fire were well conceived. At the time that I am writing this, twelve people are dead and the police expect to find more bodies. A tall apartment building is difficult to escape from when you have a multi-story fire.

Why was nothing done? This kind of fire in this kind of building is a preventable disaster. Fire prevention is very much a science and there are rules for different kinds of buildings.

This loss of life is hardly likely to be accidental. The fire may have been accidental in origin but the results of a fire in an apartment building are readily predictable and well known, and there must have been a code of some sort defining what the law required. Can the building owners have been in compliance? I don’t know. In the United States, I would be pretty confident that this kind of loss of life could only occur with code violations.

I find it hard to believe that the British treat fire safety more casually that we do. So, I am going to be following the investigation with some care. I will post again on the matter of blame as soon as the British legal apparatus generates some answers.

James Pilant

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