We all have issues that tend to work like a red flag on a bull. We all have them; there is not one exception to that rule. Whether this is good or bad is not a given, it differs for everyone. In my case it seems to be Grenfell. The level of unacceptability, the sheer levels of incompetence that were clearly visible a mere 10 minutes into reading the facts, the evidence and the presented documentations makes this entire situation beyond belief. So when I see ‘Fire brigade faces police inquiry over Grenfell ‘stay put‘ order‘, my nostrils start fuming steam, no kidding! Now, I get that the detectives have to investigate; it is not with them that I have the issue. I understand what needs to be done, yet my anger towards Det Supt Matt Bonner, who is leading the police investigation, will not subside soon. You see, I have seen apartment block fires, well one exactly. Across the street, early morning, I heard screaming, I saw smoke and then the windows frame and all exploded outwards. We stayed put (except those in the burning apartment and their neighbours), the fire was stopped soon thereafter. The issue is that all the tenants in the building were not underfoot for the fire brigade. It makes perfect sense, there was no immediate danger, so running outside when you are not in danger makes no sense. A nice old fashioned building from just past WW2. The damage was limited to the apartment and the charcoaling of the stones and window frames of the people one floor up. That was the damage. So when I see “whether the order could have breached health and safety law“, I am wondering whether Det Supt Matt Bonner is off his bloody rocker! OK, I get it, he has to do this, but when we see that certain parties signed off on the combustible cladding, and according to some sources in the inquiry with additional wrongful installation. I think that focussing on the combustible side is a lot more important than wasting time on the Fire Brigade who might not have been up to scrap on the information that combustible cladding was installed meant for buildings up to 12 meters high according to the Reynobond PE brochure, it states it in there clearly, it also states two parts that should have set the fire hazard warning lights in the heads of EVERY person directly involved in the decision making process of what to install in the Grenfell tower, so that the buildings around it had a better view (I likely will never get over that part of the equation). These levels of failure seen within the first hour, and the London Fire Brigade is treated to ‘the order could have breached health and safety law‘, there is something utterly unacceptable to that. In all this, the council people involved, are any of them in Jail, or getting their nuts roasted in a training fire? We will just tell them to stay put, the fire brigade will be there to save THEM after lunch!
I reckon that this has not happened yet!
I understand the job that Det Supt Matt Bonner has, so when he gives us “The LFB would, as any other organisation involved, have an obligation to conduct their activity in a manner that doesn’t place people at risk. It doesn’t mean that at the moment they have or they haven’t, but that’s where the legislation is most likely to arise if that was an eventuality“, I get that he is doing his job and it is not a nice job to have in this particular part of the entire track, but we all have those moments. Yet, the setting that this is now set into the shackles of the legislation on health and safety law, whilst we see that the construction, unknown to the LFB at that moment was pretty much an actual Roman Candle is not something they were aware of or signed up for. I cannot find the legislation that sets a proper scope for members of the Fire Brigade (I am not saying it does not exist, merely that I could not find it). Yet when I look at the Fire and Rescue Service Operational guidance [attached], we see a few parts (at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/5914/2124406.pdf). Yet that document gave me the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. So that is now out of the way, we see (not in the act): “Fire and Rescue Authorities must make arrangements for obtaining necessary information for the purposes of: extinguishing fire and protecting lives and property from fires in its area (Section 7); rescuing and protecting people from harm from road traffic accidents in its area (Section 8)“, this is important, because when we go back to the timeline, we see: ‘Emergency services received the first report of the fire at 00:54‘, it started on the fourth floor and the first Fire brigade teams arrived 6 minutes later (source: the Guardian). The first thing we learn is that firefighters had put out the fire in the flat within minutes. When the crew were leaving the building, they spotted flames rising up the exterior of the building. (source: the Independent), so (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-how-fire-spread-graphic-a7792661.html) we also see that the setting of stay put was sound, the initial fire was stopped, yet the flames had now gone from inside to outside (between the walls and the combustible cladding), at this point we get to ‘others were told by emergency services over the phone to put towels around doors and stay put until help arrived‘, who were still informed on the one apartment, not the Roman candle scenario. So academically there is clear logic to the setting. The next part is actually important, more important then you realise. The setting is in my personal opinion that the fire brigade was in the dark on what they faced and the scope they faced at the scene. With “A man on the 17th floor, who left his flat at 1.15am, said the fire had reached his window by the time he got out of the building“, this implies that it took 20 minutes for the fire to get from the 4th to the 17th floor. A utterly preposterous setting in any apartment building under normal condition, even under less than optimal condition this would never happen. We know that a room in any apartment can be ablaze in 3-5 minutes, considering that, the apartment itself it not yet ‘all’ in danger. I personally saw the training video for my firefighting accreditation (It’s a Marine Rescue thing). We also know that fire moves upwards, so even as the fire increases in speed and intensity, under normal conditions, it would have taken 5 minutes for any fire to move from the fourth floor to the fifth floor, yet within 6 minutes the initial fire was under attack and stopped. So now you need to realise that it was merely 00:01-00:03, when you realise that it took 12 minutes for the fire to grow from floor 4 to floor 17 that is the unnatural setting, it is pretty much unheard of. We can go with the fact that the fire was never stopped, but the initial stopping would have subsided heat and flammable material becomes a factor too. the fact that this fire was now out of control and in the end there were 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines on the scene. A setting so large, I have never seen any force actively that large on any one building in my life; these are merely a few elements in the setting that we should (respectfully mind you) hit Det Supt Matt Bonner over the head with. It is my personal belief that whoever signed of for the cladding, I do not care for what reason needs to be arrested and should be kept in jail until the entire investigation is completed. You see, I covered it in my article ‘Under cover questions‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/), where I also added the Reynobond PE brochure. Yet Arconic, the original source has now removed that brochure from their site, is that not interesting [attached]. Yet I kept a safe backup of the brochure, so we will have that. This gets me back to the page 5 information on the brochure “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high“. Now it is important to realise that I am not attacking Arconic, the brochure gives clear light and it is probably a very nice and affordable upgrade solution for small office buildings and modern houses, 40 feet, 12 metres, 3 floors. It makes sense that those that do not have the funds and basically are willing to run the smallest of risks are all fine. Grenfell was 800% larger, higher and in that regard it becomes a much larger risk and in equal regard that product should never have been selected for Grenfell. So who signed off on that part of the equation, because someone approved it. It is my belief that this person needs to get the 4th degree from Det Supt Matt Bonner, not the members from the London Fire Brigade (yes, he is only doing his job, I know!). That setting is still completely (read: largely) uncovered by the media at large. It is not about all the other parts, all the complications that the people behind the screens need to feel that they can get away from it, the simple clear one part that is shown. Who signed off on the use of Reynobond PE for THIS building, it is in my personal view that simple.
So when we see the one time when those exaggerated headlines from places like the Daily Mail are valid, we see ABC giving us (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-20/firefighters-hold-back-tears-at-grenfell-tower-fire-memorial/8633348), the setting ‘Video reveals disbelief of firefighters heading into ‘Towering Inferno’‘. So when you watch that video, also consider that these firefighters did not stop, they did not turn back, they all headed straight towards, and some into a roman candle. It might be a small miracle that none of the firefighters lost their lives. The video also showed that whilst the 39 fire engines were on route one filmed the setting where the entire building was already engulfed in flames. So whilst we are hearing the focus on the ‘stay put’, a proven logical, rational and acceptable order for high rise buildings, we need to consider how this could have gone out of control in less than 20 minutes, a setting (as far as I know) never seen before. So as you can see that the setting on the cladding is clearly given with mere common sense. we need to accept that Det Supt Matt Bonner is doing his job, yet from my point of view, the entire setting on looking at optional breaching of health and safety law, the London Fire Brigade is a lot lower on my list regarding the priority in looking on who did what wrong, there are several much higher on the list and perhaps I would not ever have chosen to question them at all. It might be the wrong call for several reasons and I accept that, yet the clear given setting that videos, photos and eye witness accounts give us, I would merely call the LFB in to buy them a beer and congratulate them for not getting themselves killed for working right next to a 67 meter Roman candle for up to 60 hours. Even as the fire was under control after 24 hours, it took another day and a half to fully stop the fires, that is never ever a normal fire, a fact that should be made open and public to a lot of people in the hope that they get angry enough to ask a few elementary questions and make sure that those who signed of on it answer them in front of dozen cameras and microphones.
So now we get back to the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, where we see in section 7, the part that I mentioned earlier, with one difference. You see the Fire and Rescue Service Operational guidance is missing one small part. We can agree that it is not an issue for the guidance, but when we see in section 7 part one ‘A fire and rescue authority must make provision for the purpose of extinguishing fires in its area, and protecting life and property in the event of fires in its area‘ we also need to see part 2 in all this. It is there where we see the smallest issue. We see: ‘In making provision under subsection (1) a fire and rescue authority must in particular secure the provision of the personnel, services and equipment necessary efficiently to meet all normal requirements‘, there is more, but this already covers it with the setting of ‘normal requirements‘. I hope we can all agree that there was nothing normal about the Grenfell tower fire. Should we bother to look at part d where we see ‘make arrangements for obtaining information needed for the purpose mentioned in subsection (1)’ as well as part e where we also see ‘make arrangements for ensuring that reasonable steps are taken to prevent or limit damage to property resulting from action taken for the purpose mentioned in subsection (1)‘ we are shown that neither point would have been possible to adhere to, 39 fire engines and 250 London firefighters. None of them would have been alerted by anyone that they were dealing with combustible cladding, they would have realised when they got there, but by then it was far too late to get anyone out alive. An abnormal setting in a place where normality seemingly was thrown out of any window when refurbishment choices were made, a view we get from the Guardian with “But fire-resistant cladding would have raised the cost for the whole building by an estimated £5,000“, a mere £70 per life lost. So when you follow the enquiry (at https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/evidence), I will be most curious to see what Arconic will have to say, you see, even as they (as far as I can tell) had done nothing wrong, the question remains whether the Arconic sales team knew all the facts on the sale of Reynobond PE, you see a building the size of Grenfell needs a lot of panels and when we consider the brochure, ref flags should have appeared in the mind of the salesperson (optionally). When we do look at the opening statement document from Arconic, we get :
- The material supplied by the Company for use at Grenfell Tower comprised the following:
(a) Reynobond 55 PE 4mm Smoke Silver Mem) lie E9107S DO 5000 Washcoat — the Arconic order acknowledgements and associated CEP purchase orders confirm the total area of this product purchased for Grenfell Tower as 6586 m2(note that this product was supplied in five different lengths and three different widths); and
(b) Reynobond 55 PE 4mm Pure White A91 10S DG 5000 Washcoat — the Arconic order acknowledgement and associate CEP purchase order confirms the total area of this product purchased for Grenfell Tower was 1 80m2.
- In 2015 the translucent ACM PE core was substituted with a carbon black core. This was achieved by adding a small amount of carbon black material to the existing core, which provided greater UV protection for the core at exposed panel edges. The change was not related to fire performance.
So, would carbon be an issue? Now, I am not a firefighter, so I am a little out of my depth here, yet when we look at the thermal conductivity of materials and we see:
|Graphite (pyrolytic, some planes)||300-1500||1.3-1.95|
|Carbon Nanotube (theoretical)||3500||N/A|
|High Modulus MP Mesophase Pitch Carbon Fiber in fiber direction||500||1.7|
So for the most, heat conductivity goes up by a lot when carbon is introduced. I am not accusing of Arconic of doing anything wrong, merely that as UV protection went up, so did the heat conductivity as my personal consideration speculates (a clear assumption from my side at this point). The fact that this happened in 2015 long before the refurbishment, we see an additional danger factor. Even as Reynobond PE was never an acceptable solution according to their own brochure, the fact that over 6500 square meters of the stuff was ordered, did no one question the maximum 12 metres part?
So again we get to the part, who approved the installation of well over 6500 square meters of combustible material turning a high rise building into a 67 meter Roman candle?
I might be the bull and Grenfell is the red flag enraging me to the core, I accept that, I merely wonder why not more people apart from the family of victims are not equally enraged. Part of that makes no sense to me at all, because the next building might have you, your children, your grandchildren or other family members in them.
How would you feel then?