Tag Archives: Grenfell

The bigger the dick

How big a dick does one need to be? That is often part of any conversation that we tend to have in the common rooms, as well as all kinds of places where conversations are made (like water coolers), yet this week the biggest dick award will be won by Jacob Rees-Mogg with a landslide victory on his Grenfell remarks.

The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/nov/05/too-late-rees-mogg-faces-furious-backlash-over-grenfell-apology-stormzy) gives us part of the responses, but it does not give us the reality of the entire Grenfell mess, the entire mess that he created with the statement “I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do” leaves us with a bad taste, it gives the indication that the Fire brigade did not know what it was doing. I have given several reports on the views given in my stories, an important one is seen in ‘Under cover questions‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/), the state that we are in when we see the Reynobond PE leaflet should have placed initial questions, then we get the information that the Fire brigades give us, all that information clearly show us that the settings surrounding all this was about misinforming the fire brigades, as such the entire response by Jacob Rees-Mogg is out of place and out of bounds.

I wonder if Jacob Rees-Mogg will act out his persona by stating that common sense will require those involved in Grenfell in the KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) should by common sense never ever be allowed in any tenant management organisation in the Commonwealth? The secure finding he has on ‘common sense’ should require him to do so. In the article I wrote called ‘Blame and culpability are not the same‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/09/28/blame-and-culpability-are-not-the-same/), there in that article I wrote “The revelations by John Sweeney (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrzcjUhf61w) give us even more (not at present, but at the initial point), it gives us that the first fire engine arrived in 4 minutes. The BBC gives a much better light and the one part that I stated in the beginning and still believe that is true, is that the Firefighters should have been made untouchable by the media until the inquiry is done. Even as we see the critical answers that BBC Newsnight received by Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union is an internal one and he is stating that certain things needed to be looked at” What I want to know is the remark by BBC at 00:39 of the video file where we hear ‘Firefighters have been banned from speaking to the media‘ Were any of them properly interviewed at the commission hearing? The BBC Newsnight piece is still a decent source of information, What everyone is overlooking is the fact that the fire went from inside to the outside, more importantly, the important part is seen and heard, the air in the building had become toxic, how would any kitchen appliance drawn for that part of the fire? This was known and to a larger extent questioned and Jacob Rees-Mogg should have known all this, it is out in the open, the fact that the LFB (London Fire Brigade) used the ‘Stay Put‘ command was based on intelligence that was false, that intelligence will be under scrutiny on several places, not merely the LFB, the video’s that we are shown show a very different part, this is not against the LFB, this is against the stupid outburst of Jacob Rees-Mogg who seemingly is all about not listening to the LFB.

The entire setting changes momentum when you see the Grenfell building after the fire, the cladding was painting the colour of charcoal all over the building, from the 5th floor upwards, if there is one issue that Jacob Rees-Mogg was able to leave behind with the millions of people living in London is distrust. Another source was given to the people in the shape of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUtjSspO_BU, that part shows a larger failing by several sources. That one minute footage is important, in the first we see the damage that a later firefighter brings and the utter disbelieve that we hear from those fireman. We do not know exactly when it was filmed, or what team is filming it, we merely see that there is a nightmare fire happening, all these clear pieces of evidence shows the utter stupidity of the statement by Jacob Rees-Mogg. In all this, my personal view was never heard. I mention it more than once. The tenant management organisation the covers Grenfell was part of the decision to select Reynobond PE, the leaflet, the information given out by THEM, makes the entire choice of Reynobond PE an unbelievable act, the fact that we see the long winded political choices are merely one of the unacceptable acts. The statement of Jacob Rees-Mogg should not be ignored, there is a larger issue at foot, it is not merely a scandal, it is the one defining act that makes all this a joke. It was shown in the Guardian (alas link missing) that the cladding was added to make the building more appeasing to those living around it, how did that work out? In addition the choice of Cladding that brought several questions to mind the moment I saw the leaflet (and I am not in that branch of work), the fact that the ones behind the refurbishment should face questions and scrutiny too. In finality there is the questions that are called to an article by the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/16/grenfell-tower-rebuke-right-rampant-inequality) by Jonathan Freedland, a columnist who added the story in the comment section is calling for other views too. The mention here of “the repeated warnings from residents that were either ignored or, astonishingly, greeted by threats of legal action” it all links to the KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation), the question should become was the refurbishment properly checked and in light of all this, how stupid was the response of Jacob Rees-Mogg, especially in the light of optional consideration that a building was intentionally wrapped in a fire accelerant, can we conclude that Jacob Rees-Mogg was slightly too stupid for any response on the matter?

Even as it has been a little over two years and the Grenfell Tower inquiry is still going on, the fact that the entire inquiry is set to take place over a long time, the continuation will commence somewhere next year. This all looks like a botched up job, with the BBC commenting on “It feels like certain people are being let off the hook, not being asked important questions. Now the first phase is finished. We don’t feel satisfied“, as well as “private companies and public authorities had answered “I don’t recall” a lot during the first phase of the inquiry” Which we get from the article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-48189965) called ‘Grenfell Tower fire: Families criticise inquiry ‘amnesia’‘ it seems to me that the government has enough issues to look at, it did not need the stupidity of the response that Jacob Rees-Mogg was giving. I wonder if the question: “who attended the meeting and approved Reynobond PE for Grenfell towers“, I wonder how many members of KCTMO (as well as the builders) will survive what happens after that. From all the issues I like the leaflet quote the best “For retrofit projects less than 40 feet high” (Image to the left) and this was from their own website in June 2017, so can someone ask the question, who approved that cladding? We can suspect that there are all kinds of reasons that a supplier gives us the ‘Less than 40 ft. high‘ yet at that point I starts asking all kinds of questions, questions that have so far been missed out of, why is that? And in light of the height of Grenfell towers and the shortage of the comment by Jacob Rees-Mogg those answers better be good!

Mainly because someone was stupid enough to hang his political career by the light of ‘common sense’ and ignoring the LFB, these two do not go hand in hand, two years later, no end to an inquiry and the people are angry, they are indeed very angry and Jacob Rees-Mogg added fuel to those flames.

 

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When we fail others

It happens, we fail others. At times it cannot be helped, it seems naturally that people forget about safety issues and condemn a whole building with bad cladding. It is just one of those things. Especially in Melbourne when after the 2014 fire in the Lacrosse Building, an apartment block in Melbourne’s Docklands 170 buildings were found to be non-compliant. Almost 5 years later, 19 months after the Grenfell tower event in London where 72 people lost their lives, we are now confronted that with 2000 buildings audited 360 are a high risk, 280 are moderate risk and 140 are low risk. You can drizzle it down, yet the cold fact is that 40% of the buildings are a risk, so over 5 years not one fuck was given for the safety of people (was that diplomatic enough?)

It is even worse when we see: “Last year those regulations were tightened in Victoria to ban the use of aluminium composite panels that contain more than 30% polyethylene“. Yet this is not the whole picture, it is actually a lot worse. The BBC gave us (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43558186) in April 2018: “In the standard European tests for “reaction to fire”, products are rated A to F – with A being the top rating. Reynobond PE had a certificate based on a rating of B

The part that is missing is the part I gave view to in June 2017. The brochure itself gives us: “What is interesting is the mention on page 5 of the brochure: “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high” This is an interesting part because the ‘why‘ comes into play, why only 3 stories? That part becomes a point of discussion, as page three shows a 7 story high building in the images. On page 6 we see the safety rating form flames and smoke as a pass with Class A as per ASTM E84. That part revealed two elements. One is the mention ‘This test method measures flame growth on the underside of a horizontal test specimen, using the Steiner tunnel test‘, the operative word is ‘horizontal‘”. I wrote this in the article ‘Under Cover Questions‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/). How did the BBC miss this? Then there is the fact that the flame test was done on a horizontal piece. Two direct questions that are clearly constructed from the mere brochure of the product. So how did officials in the UK and Australia miss these parts? That is before questions come up regarding the limit given of: ‘perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high‘, so how high was Grenfell, a mere 40 feet? How high was the Melbourne building? For me the line: “Laws introduced last year include a new funding three-way model that would allow owners’ corporations to take out a commercial loan to replace cladding and then pay it back through their council rates in an effort to encourage owners to act more quickly, but so far that model has not been used” is merely met with laughter. From my point of view, any participant who was part of the installation and acceptance of this cladding should be banned from construction for life. Unless you all agree that reckless endangerment of life is merely a trivial matter, I reckon that the family members of the 72 Grenfell victims feel a lot less trivial about the mess.

I also think that the quote “Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne says removing flammable cladding from the most high-risk buildings in Melbourne is a ‘complex problem’” I believe that Richard Wynne is off his rocker, the careless endangering of lives is not complex at all. And if this falls on the municipality to fix, it should come with the automated stage where anyone involved in allowing for this cladding should be banned for life in the construction or retrofitting of anything that receives any government funding, never to be allowed to be involved in anything that has more than two floors. It was not that complex was it? There is the additional part where he quoted 14 hours ago where he stated that 60 buildings were higher risk, whilst reliable sources (read: the guardian) has that number at 360, which is a 600% difference, a little too high a difference. In addition there is the stage of: “The average cost of replacing combustible cladding is between $40,000 and $65,000 per apartment unit, leaving “total rectification” of a block in the millions of dollars“. In that regard, why did the police not raid the offices of the involved parties confiscating all papers and contracts so that they could be scrutinised?

The facilitation towards the incompetent as I personally see it is just a little too overwhelming at present. It gets worse when you realise that this is not just Victoria, In NSW we see: “An audit found more than 1000 buildings across NSW have the dangerous cladding“, which now gives me the thought, did anyone ever look at the Reynobond PE brochure? Two essential and elemental questions were raised (the 40 foot limit) as well as the horizontal flame test. Both should have immediately disregarded Reynobond as an option, so how come that the hard questions that need to be placed at the side of Richard Wynne, as well as his NSW counterpart are missing? I would like to add the question on how this is suddenly very complex, but that might just be me.

It does not end there

You see, the issue is larger than what we see. ITV showed that yesterday (at https://www.itv.com/news/london/2019-02-11/fire-chief-stands-by-controversial-testimony-to-the-grenfell-inquiry/), it is at that point that we get treated to: “London’s fire chief says she stands by her controversial testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry, insisting she would not change a thing about the way crews responded.” you see, the part that people ignore, hiding behind emotions (some for all the right reasons) is: “I think it’s absolutely right that the inquiry will look at the whole process around not just our response but more importantly how the building came to be in that state because the building should never, ever have had that cladding on and had the lack of provisions for those people inside.” Too many players want to get around the one part that is at the heart of the matter ‘the lack of provisions for those people inside‘. The sprinkler issue, an issue that might make some sense when a building is 4 floors high, yet for a 20+ floors building there is no sense at all, and fire doors that were not there. The BBC gave a list in June 2018 (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44351567).

  1. Most of the fire doors at the entrance to the 120 flats had been replaced in 2011 but neither they or the original doors still left in place complied with fire test evidence.
  2. The fire service had to pump its own water into Grenfell Tower – the building’s “dry fire main” system was “non-compliant” with guidance at the time of construction and was “non-compliant with current standards”.
  3. The smoke control system did not operate correctly, reducing the ability to improve both escape and firefighting conditions.

These are three elements that had a huge impact. The first two would have made delay and containment of the fire impossible and the ‘stay put’ order became a death sentence, no fire chief would have been ready for that. The overall failing in all this building alone warrants a large stage of arresting several players for corporate manslaughter and those were the obvious failings (beside the cladding), the last goes on a little longer making obvious question clear, ‘Why aren’t people in prison at present?‘ It is in that regard that the one person that should not be prosecuted is Fire Chief Dany Cotton. I do believe that this inquiry is essential as is her voice in this, yet this inquiry should be happening whilst several connected parties should be in prison awaiting the outcome, not watching it from a comfortable chair in the living room.

And it goes from bad to worse

Inside Housing reported three weeks ago: ‘Council to spend £500,000 keeping KCTMO running‘, so not only are we and the family of victims confronted with cost cutting measures and now we see that they require half a million to keep afloat? With: “Board papers from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) revealed that a total of £750,000 would be spent on Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KTCMO) in 2019/20, with £250,000 being found through the company’s reserves” the pressing question should be why management was not taken away and given to someone else? Even as we accept the quote “KCTMO must remain in existence as a legal entity throughout the Grenfell Inquiry so it can be held to account“, I am all for that, yet they can be parked awaiting prosecution, handing them half a million seems a bit much on every side of this equation.

As we contemplate the impact of the Grenfell disaster, we see that not only is there a larger issue in play, we need to realise that the current viewed inaction in both the UK and Australia should be seen as a larger problem. That is seen most clearly in two quotes. The first is: “The Neo200 apartment building on Spencer Street, which caught fire last week, was classified to be a moderate risk“, the second one is: “Neo 200 achieved certification and approval from the building certifier and relevant authorities at the time. We welcome the opportunity to support any investigation into the incident by authorities.

It gives direct rise to the concern that certification is as large an issue as well as allowing fire hazardous cladding to be applied to a building. So when we see that ‘Some 360 private buildings had been deemed high-risk‘, we need to conclude that the building regulations have now failed well over 360 times and in that regard, knowing that there were clear issues going back to the Lakanal House fire of 2009, when we realise that sources gave us “breaches of fire safety standards in UK are common and lessons from Lakanal House have not been learned“, we see that issues with building regulations, and breaches in fire safety have been allowed to go unchecked for almost a decade, in that light, stronger questions need to be asked of the political players as well as the policy makers. Even as the earlier failures by Southwark council are well documented, how is it even possible that these failings are still happening close to a decade later?

I fear that we are failing others by our inability to loudly ask the questions that require answers, and we are seemingly finding the response from Richard Wynne that it is a ‘complex problem which will take some time to fix properly‘, we are too accepting of an issue that should have reduced to the largest degree close to half a decade ago, the information of failing has been clearly shown since 2009, the fact that this is ‘still’ complex a decade later should anger a lot of people, especially those in apartments with flammable cladding. Feel free to disagree, yet when you do, don’t come crying when you end up watching your children burn alive. At that point you only have yourself to blame.

It’s harsh, but the inaction on flammable cladding is just that, harsh!

 

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Finger in a dike solution

There is plenty going on, the first is Jim Yong Kim is resigning as president of the world bank (I will send them my resume for their consideration today), there are hoards of articles on the 5G deception by AT&T (a week after I highlighted it) and there is even more going on regarding Hezbollah, and I will look at that soon enough, that is, as soon as I receive a few messages (with something representing evidence) from both Cairo and Gaza, which now involves Hamas as well. Yet that is for soon, for now there is something that actually impacts on the British people, especially those in social houses.

The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/07/dutch-eco-homes-idea-arrives-in-uk-and-cuts-energy-bills-in-half-nottingham-energiesprong) gives us that a Dutch project called ‘the energy leap initiative‘; Nottingham was the first to sign on and the Dutch approach included: “new wall cladding, windows and solar panels, even as the initial bill is set to £5 million, we see that the energy bills in these places are down by 50%. This makes it interesting to do the abacus test where we learn that (as I am presently aware), we get a £33,350 bill per house, and it is not merely the refurbishment that matters, the people in these houses will see a £750 a year decrease in energy expenses, which means a lot if you need to rely on social houses. Yet my calculation was wrong, the quote “Costs are relatively high, at £85,000 per property initially but are expected to fall to £62,000 by the end of the programme. Braham said scale would help costs fall as the supply chain adapted gives us that, yet we also see: “It’s warmer, all the draughts have gone. Before it [the home] looked like a rabbit hutch – it looks like a proper home now“, in addition, the looks of the houses have been improved by a decent amount. I think it is more than just the cost, even as we consider the long term of the initial amount of £85,000. We need to consider the long term impact on energy requirements and the long term benefit of upgraded housing. Whether this could be a push for municipalities to move towards some version of a rent to own project is too soon to tell, but the consideration that thousands of upgraded houses will also constitute an increased quality of life is not to be underestimated. The direct impact of families having £60 a month available for better (read: more) food and optionally a few extras in the month gives a much better prospect to the mental balance of any person. Yet, we are not there yet, as the article ends with: “Braham said a no-deal Brexit could jeopardise Enegiesprong’s prospects in the UK: “If we left without a deal, it would be a risk.”” Is that true? You see, when there is a building shortfall, when there are all kinds of optional paths, you want to hide behind some ‘Brexit’ play? Feel free to hand over the IP (if any applies) and hand it over to Interserve, they are dying to get additional jobs at present.

You see, the Dutch approach is brilliant in a few ways, yet it can also be used in other parts. We are all looking at how Interserve is restructuring its debt, yet it is not impossible to unite the two to some degree, instead of mere debt staging, another path is the additional option for refurbishment at cost price (to some degree). Even as Interserve does not gain profits, they do get additional jobs to refurbish jobs all over the UK, as well as a decent workflow; it optionally becomes a stage where we see the £85,000 per house refurbishment go down by a lot more (perhaps even down to £57,000), whilst the people get a direct benefit and optionally all of them gain an increased quality of life at the very same time, we see that the overall value of these municipality houses go up, an additional push towards rent to own (which is also good for the British state of mind overall), freeing up a lot more for additional social housing which would serve the portfolio of Interserve as well (not completely at cost though, lets remain fair here).

We avoid a second Carillion to a much larger extent; we upgrade housing as the same time as we see a financial and structural opportunity increase on more than one level. It is a Win-Win-Win in all this.

When we consider this against ‘NWCH confirms winners on £1.5bn framework‘, we need to see the stage where we see another optional problem in the long run. That is not me speaking ill or negatively mind you, when we consider the initial article: (at https://www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/nwch-confirms-winners-on-1-5bn-framework/), some might have overlooked a few items in all this.

Consider the winners:

Lot 1, £8-15m Lot 2, £15-35m Lot 3, £35m+
Bowmer & Kirkland Balfour Beatty Bam
Conlon Bouygues Balfour Beatty
Eric Wright Bowmer & Kirkland Bouygues
ISG Eric Wright Graham
Graham ISG Kier
Kier Graham Vinci
Laing O’Rourke Kier Wates
Seddon Seddon
Wates Vinci

When we look at all these ‘winners’ how many are implementing the foundations that ‘the energy leap initiative‘ is implementing in refurbishments? Why is the foundation of ‘the energy leap initiative‘ optionally not immediately part of ANY new implementation? I am not saying that this is not done, I want to make sure that this is part of any new consideration, when the savings on the energy bill approaches 50%, it should be part of any consideration and if councils do not do that, they better have a really good explanations to back that up more than merely ‘budget’, I think there are plenty of people in the Grenfell tower who would agree with the downside of budgeting, oh no, they can’t they are all dead! And those related to the victims will not hear anything until way past 2020, so that is a disaster with a few disasters piled on top of that, and as such I believe that it becomes more and more important to scrutinise any building project, especially as some are setting it to a stage that is well over a billion pounds (£1.5 billion in this case).

Personally I wonder if we can hold the quote by ISG framework director Neil Walker to long term scrutiny. When we see: “The significance of the North West Construction Hub in delivering the vital infrastructure that supports our communities cannot be underestimated. As a forum for sharing best practice and innovation, fostering strong collaboration and focusing on driving efficiencies throughout the build process, this framework is a stand-out performer and an exemplar of how public/private partnerships generate real value and deliver much-needed facilities in the shortest possible timeframe.” The critic in me, personally translates what I see: ‘in the shortest possible timeframe‘ and I believe that this translates to: ‘cheap as shit through cutting corners and creating optional hazards‘, as well as ‘driving efficiencies throughout the build process‘, which I read as ‘driving deadlines in every direction creating optional construction and infrastruction issues across the board‘, I do hope that I am 100% wrong, yet at present as we see the issues (far beyond the Grenfell tower) that have reared their ugly heads in the last 13 years alone, the statistics are on my side and not on the side of Neil Walker. In the end, I should make people ask these questions, it is not because of the 72 people killed in the Grenfell tower; it is the additional pressure of housing shortage as well as the millions of pounds that this inquiry costs. When you see this in opposition of the budget cut to save £1.3m, are you even surprised that we should bring these issues to the table as loudly as possible? When we see this £1.5 billion event, and we remember the Grenfell tower event as the people were informed of a £200,000 more when staged against combustible versus non-combustible materials, how can we not see that there is a larger failing in the entire process before the construction starts and when I see terms like ‘driving efficiencies throughout the build process‘ I personally tend to get really nervous, especially when the driving parties tend to be elected officials (municipality councils) with a lack of civil engineering degrees (a personal assumption of mine at present).

Yet when we consider the long term energy gains that we get from implementing ‘the energy leap initiative‘ and other solutions in gaining energy efficient locations, I believe that it is imperative that their input is gained on anything over £5 million, the gains are just too good, especially in a day and age where energy is a global problem. There is also a second benefit. Whether the UK faces a Brexit with or without a deal, projects like this one will still need to happen, having a good relationship with any neighbouring country is a good idea no matter what, that approach was good policy before there was any EU and it will remain good policy after the EU collapses, because that is still a danger that the 27 EU nations face. You see the dangers in Europe are far from over. You might be in denial (for whatever reason), yet when we see: ‘End of QE leaves Italy, Spain and France seeking for new bond buyers‘  with in addition the quote: “Although the ECB announced the end of the Quantitative Easing (QE) last month, it said it would continue reinvesting the proceeds of bonds bought under the stimulus programme, but which were now maturing“, so not only are the European people deceived, the proceeds against the multi trillion Euro cost is still being used. So not only will the debt remain, any bond hike will change into dramatic loss for Europe when (read: when, not if) that hits, this links directly back to construction and building projects of all shapes and sizes, from that point of view we need to start becoming increasingly cautious on what steps to take next and setting a much better stage of construction and social housing is an essential first.

I personally believe that this Dutch project is a large step forward in better housing, we might argue that this should become the norm in new housing, yet when we see the petition (at https://www.mygridgb.co.uk/solar-petition/) and the fact that there has been a petition giving us: “Since May 2018, I have been running a petition on the UK Parliament website asking for a Parliamentary Debate that every new home in the UK should be installed with solar panels“, and when we see that the petition is now closed, not making the required 10,000 votes with added statistics that less than 3% has solar paneling gives rise to a larger failing in current construction projects, so as some walk away with millions, others merely end up getting roasted in the process. It is for that reason that we need to take a lot more critique to the construction table, especially when it includes a nice £1.5 billion build incentive. By the way, when we consider the weather in the UK, apart from the entire Solar panel issue, how many commercial buildings are equipped with a wind turbine? In this day and age, when we consider the options (at http://www.renewablesfirst.co.uk/windpower/windpower-learning-centre/how-much-does-a-farm-wind-turbine-small-wind-farm-turbine-cost/); the problem is not that easy and we accept that. The question becomes how much power do you need to truly substantially lower energy needs in an area? Apart from the fact that there will be an added benefit adding power to any grid, we have to consider that any opposition ‘to keep a nice view’ can no longer be seen as a valid response. As energy needs increase we need to see the light on accepting other means to supplement energy needs. That too is part of any energy leap. Merely stating that it is not viable when you are about to throw a billion plus into a stage of construction contracts, when we see cost cutting of £200K here and there, we should accept that proper costing was never done, the bare minimum no longer holds proper water, now when some investors take hundreds of millions out of the country, In all this did the demanded stage of a £2 million wind turbine really put them out of pocket? Any council that agrees that this was a ‘Yes’ better be ready to answer question in public and see their jobs fall away when the answers were regarded as ‘not satisfactory’.

To see this in a proper light we need to look at 2017, the Independent (at https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/hackney-council-housing-government-austerity-cuts-controversial-strategy-gentrification-a7886331.html) gave us: “28 new council homes for social renting, 39 for shared ownership and eight for private sale to help pay for them all in the absence of Government funding.” Sit down and consider that stage for a moment, whilst in opposition we see the Battersea Power Station where we see: “The £9bn revamp of Battersea Power Station in central London has slashed the number of affordable flats to just 386, a 40% reduction from original plans, the proportion of affordable housing will fall to 9%”, when compared, Labour sided Mayor of Hackney should be getting a freaking OBE for what he achieved. 28 out of eighty five homes imply that there is a stage of 32%, which is amazing. I understand that there is a much larger issue at stake, yet when we see the Apple HQ stage, whilst these people hardly ever pay any taxation in the UK on their billions, we should take a long hard look on who should be vacating their Wandsworth council position (in my humble opinion) no later than yesterday. It is not as black and white as I see it, I get that, yet between 9% and 32% we see a gap that is way too large, and many media outlets are not giving it the daily attention that this should get, not in light of the larger failings in the housing market that is currently going on. We all need to do more and we all need to do better, even if it is asking the questions that are seemingly ignored by too many. In all this, with the massive growth needed, the energy leap initiative will become increasingly important. The UK has been confronted with energy and gas shortages for three years now, is it not time that there is a more powerful push to address this?

Some stop the flooding by shoving their finger in a dike (a Dutch Hans Brinker reference), others decide to merely construct a better dike from the get go. I’ll leave it up to you to consider which solution fits your time-frame a little better. Just remember, you can get something cheap, good, or fast, and you are allowed merely two of the three options here.

Which two would you choose?

 

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Blame and culpability are not the same

The setting is one that has been going on for a while. We can hide, we can blame. Yet the culpability is one that is much larger and it is seemingly aimed at the wrong people. The one that did set me off most was not some Murdoch article, you would expect that. No, it was the Times with: ‘The Grenfell fire inquiry has revealed serious shortcomings in firefighters’ training, but none so serious as a reluctance to react to fast-changing events‘. If we look at certain elements, we can deduce that part and give that a thumb up rating. Yet, I do not believe that this is the case, I believe that certain players are setting the stage and the lighting on the people in this oversized drama, whilst the light is moved away from the actual events and the actual players behind the screen. You see a lot of issues were clear within 5 minutes (always the case after the facts), I spoke about them in my blog of June 2017 ‘Under cover questions‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/23/under-cover-questions/). The brochure alone gave me so many red flags that this was a much larger danger. So before there were firefighters. There were the people behind the renovation, there were the decision makers, there were the architects of the plan, there were the people who gave the final word. These people were to be fried, baked and were to be interrogated in a very uncomfortable way. When I wrote it, I also saw the Guardian article ‘Complex chain of companies that worked on Grenfell Tower raises oversight concerns‘ raising a few additional concerns. So when we look at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. We see (at https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/news/prime-minister-announces-inquiry-terms-reference) the following points.

(a) the immediate cause or causes of the fire and the means by which it spread to the whole of the building;

(b) the design and construction of the building and the decisions relating to its modification, refurbishment and management;

(c) the scope and adequacy of building regulations, fire regulations and other legislation, guidance and industry practice relating to the design, construction, equipping and management of high-rise residential buildings;

These are the first three points, and it seems to me that this should have been the order. Now, I can accept that they are working on the firefighters first, as the better it is in their memory, the better the quality of the statements. Yet, it is my personal believe that the Times misfired (one of the least likely events in the history of journalism) for the simple reason that nothing about this fire was normal. Anything that could have gone possibly wrong did and when we go back to one of the scariest parts in all this was talked about in my earlier blog too. The footage (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUtjSspO_BU) gives us the recordings on the fireman still on route trying to get TO the fire. They were in disbelief that this was real, so even we hear the talks on the fire fighters being banned talking to the media. Now we see the disgraceful words of the Times (which is an unique in my view as well). The revelations by John Sweeney (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrzcjUhf61w) give us even more (not at present, but at the initial point), it gives us that the first fire engine arrived in 4 minutes. The BBC gives a much better light and the one part that I stated in the beginning and still believe that is true, is that the Firefighters should have been made untouchable by the media until the inquiry is done. Even as we see the critical answers that BBC Newsnight received by Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union is an internal one and he is stating that certain things needed to be looked at. Certain protocols had to be changed. Yet here too the bigger story is not merely what was missed, or what was done. It is what should have been there from the earliest beginning and we see close to zero on that. Yet there were water pressure issues, it was not enough to fight fires, and it became worse when all the levels of concrete hindered communications. Yet the first light was given by Sky News on November 27th 2017 when we hear (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pS3cIF6g24), at 0:45 we hear “we had a push to insulate buildings and easiest, the cheapest way to insulate them is to use these combustible materials“, a clear danger, the Reynobond PE brochure calls even more questions on the failing, yet all eyes are on the fire fighters and I found the Times article the most upsetting one. So, we would not have been surprised to the Telegraph giving us: “The inquiry has previously heard from Dr Barbara Lane, a leading fire engineer, that the controversial stay put policy had “substantially failed” by 1.26am when flames could be seen to have reached the top of the 23-storey tower block“, I expected more and better from the Times. You see, the ‘Stay Put’ protocol makes perfect sense, if all the proper elements are in place and we learned later that not only were they not in place, we see the effect of a fire growing outside of a CONCRETE building that caused the dangers. A danger I correctly identified in less than 5 minutes, and that included the time required to Google search the Reynobond brochure, downloading, and reading it.

We are also given from several sources that repeated warnings were ignored. And that gets us to part 4 of the inquiry. There we see:

(d) Whether such regulations, legislation, guidance and industry practice were complied with in the case of Grenfell Tower and the fire safety measures adopted in relation to it;

There is an important overlap between part c where we see “industry practice relating to the design, construction, equipping and management of high-rise residential buildings” as well as part (d) where we see: “whether such regulations, legislation, guidance and industry practice were complied with“. Here we get to understand the setting of the stage for the fire, yet the stage is larger. The entire consideration by the decision makers on the refurbishment of Grenfell and what happens after are receiving governmental isolation from the event and there is where we see the setting of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO). When we consider the message on September 27th 2017 where we are treated to: “Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC) has voted unanimously to terminate its contract with the landlord of Grenfell Tower“, we still see that there is not one, but there are two elements missing in the dock and the people have a right to grill these two players as well. It is my personal view that there is a systemic failure here, but the reach of the failure is a little in the wind as we are unaware of all the legalised settings of responsibility, that is also an element that we should look at, because the deeper the failure goes, the larger the problem for London and its mayor Sadiq Khan.

So even as Sky News treats us to the LFB chief testimony with: “The London Fire Brigade chief told the inquiry she would change nothing about her team’s response on the night of the fire and defended the crews’ “fantastic” actions – to which survivors in the room shook their heads“, I wonder how many saw the YouTube video where the firemen saw the blaze already going on and these people still ran into the fire with whatever they could. That in view of “At that point £300,000 was removed from the cladding budget and zinc panels were replaced with the aluminium composite material with the plastic core“, It is at this point when we need to realise that the Chair of Grenfell gives us what is actually important ion all this: “Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the chair of the Grenfell Tower inquiry which opens in full on 4 June, has said he wants to find out “what decisions about the exterior of the building … were made, by whom and when”. He also wants to know whether the cladding and insulation met building regulations and standards, who was responsible if they did not and “what factors or motives influenced the decisions”“, this setting as given by the Guardian in May 2018 reflects what I stated a year earlier, it is what matters and whilst everyone is having a go at the London Fire Brigade, whilst the initial phone call on a stove with a fire did not include the part: “We are about to call you to a fire that has (intentionally or not) been designed to become a roman candle, burning hotter than a crematorium, designed to kill as many as possible and leave nothing in working order when the fire is done, you will optionally never ever have trained for such an event, as this has not happened since the 1974 when John Guillermin created the Towering Inferno“, which with the eye on irony was actually made by heaven forbid, a British film director, all elements ‘clearly’ seen and not currently reflected upon in the inquiry until much later (not the movie part).

Yet the movie part still matters, you see, when we take a little trip back into time, we see the events of February 1, 1974, the same year the movie was made. Here we are treated to the story of the Joelma Building disaster. Here too we see that there was no sprinkler and no smoke alarms. The 1974 Joelma Building fire was the worst skyscraper-related disaster in history until the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, and when you realise that the fire brigade was left with no options and that the fire went out on its own because there was nothing left to burn, only then do you perhaps realise that this was a clear sign that the story was not about the firemen, it was about the 179 people who lost their lives. Add to this the setting of the Lakanal House fire of July 3rd 2009 in Camberwell London and when we realise that at a meeting of Southwark Council, Cllr Ian Wingfield called for a “full and independent public inquiry” into the fire, which was supported by the Fire Brigades Union and that no public inquiry was conducted into the Lakanal House fire. We end up being treated to three clear signs that Grenfell could have been avoided largely BEFORE the fire even started. We get that final part through: “the fire spread unexpectedly fast, both laterally and vertically, trapping people in their homes, with the exterior cladding panels burning through in just four and a half minutes“. All clear statements of facts, all evidence on what happened, not reflected on and with “At that point £300,000 was removed from the cladding budget“, we see what clearly might reflect on the criminal setting of Murder through optional intentional negligence. I wonder if the inquiry will ever touch on that, at present, with the Times giving us ‘shortcomings on fire fighters’ the survivors and for now living relatives of Grenfell, they are not given the whole setting and even as there is a governmental need to critically look at Grenfell tower, it should show a lot more because I am decently certain that the failure will remain after the inquiry. You see, I will call on another piece of evidence, it is the instructed actions by solicitor, Vimal Sama, dated 25th July 2013, where we see that Francis O’Connor was facing optional prosecution on: “defamatory behaviour” and “harassment.” (the Independent at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-blogger-threatened-legal-action-kensington-and-chelsea-council-health-safety-a7792346.html), in that part, when we see the actions of “Kensington and Chelsea Council threatened a resident of Grenfell Tower with legal action after he blogged about his concerns over fire safety“, so did the media ever give everyone in London that particular blog and those relevant stories? In addition that article also gives us: “It has also been reported that former housing minister Brandon Lewis “sat on” information and resisted making sprinklers a legal requirement because it would “discourage building”“. In light of that at what point will the chairman of the conservative party be asked a few questions on the wisdom of resisting making sprinklers a legal requirement? Was that after he left that the impact would have been noticed?

All these valid questions on the setting that matters in a few areas (perhaps not at present at this exact stage of the inquiry), yet it gives me the first and perhaps only moment when I feel that this might be the one and only time that I tell John Witherow, editor of the Times:

Bad Form! This was badly done!

 

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Space Quest 2.5

It is an interesting setting; the reference comes from one of Sierra-on-Line’s most famous games called Space Quest, in this game we see the hero going up against Vohaul and his evil plan: to eradicate sentient life by launching millions of cloned insurance salesmen at the planet!

That game came to mind the moment I was treated to ‘Grenfell-type cladding on London flats to be replaced at insurer’s cost‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/09/grenfell-type-cladding-on-london-flats-to-be-replaced-at-insurers-cost), in this we all might seem relieved, but the truth is hidden in the subtitle with ‘Decision over New Capital Quay could have repercussions for other apartment blocks’. This is the setting and it was never going to be a win-win situation for the house owners. We see the emotional part with “A second family, which has seen the value of its London flat slashed from £600,000 to just £90,000 because of the Grenfell-style cladding, was thrilled to learn they no longer faced the bill“, I am happy for that family, I truly am, even with the first example the Guardian gave. Yet the hidden trap is not invisible, it does not hold out in camouflage. The simplest question gets you there. How much effort have you gone through to get your insurance money? I have been through it twice in my lifetime and in the end it costed me more than the premiums ever did. When it comes to insurances (beyond third party insurance) you tend to never ever win, or break even.

You see, getting an insurance firm to part with money is a bit of an issue. So when I see that they are footing the bill, all kinds of red flags went up. In Victoria (Australia) we saw in 2015 “Victorian Building Association (VBA) conducted an audit of 170 building permits following an Melbourne apartment fire that climbed 13 floors in November 2014, causing $2 million in damages, due to combustible wall cladding used in construction“, and until you get the headline ‘cladding hazard may nullify claims‘, you might not get the essential one. This is not any different in the UK. In addition there is (from another source) “However, a good number of policies stipulate that if you’ve told your insurer you have fire alarms, they must work. If an insurer finds that a home’s fire detectors weren’t functioning correctly at the time of a fire, they might reduce the claim pay out, or even turn it down altogether“, as well as “Did we have working fire alarms? Did we have a fire blanket in the kitchen and extinguishers in the house? Was there an up-to-date electrical inspection report? Luckily, we complied, but similar issues apply to almost any policy“. Now consider these parts with the Grenfell like issues seen in: “The Guardian has learned that another deficiency notice from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) was issued on 25 January in relation to all 11 blocks in the complex. It identified 16 fire safety issues, including a lack of arrangements to evacuate vulnerable and elderly residents, an ineffective maintenance regime, a broken firefighting lift and a broken fire hydrant outside one of the blocks. It found that “the procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to relevant persons are inadequate”, raising residents’ fears about being trapped in the event of a fire“, which is given to us (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/15/further-defects-discovered-at-housing-with-grenfell-style-cladding).

So in these cases, we have an insurance problem, the building is not up to specs, and any fire voids the insurance, in most cases the home insurance is also affected, yet the insurers are covering it all this time. This is not merely the Grenfell setting, all the buildings are covered. Yet what we are likely to see is that this is a quick return on investment from the insurers. You see, there is every chance that the premiums will go up between £120 and £360 a year next year onwards. Now consider that this is not merely handed to those buildings fixed, it will most likely be an overall premium increase of 1%-1.5% for every building in London, which will give the insurance companies an expected £12m-£36m per year for the next 5 years at least. So the quote “Residents, who were facing a share of a bill estimated at between £25m and £40m for cladding and millions more for round-the-clock fire wardens, were elated with the news” gives us that the insurers will take an optional short term hit with the turning point in year 2 and large profits after that. It seems like a nice business deal for them, and in light of the avoided costs most will not blink at being happy, even when the new bills arrive.

Part of that danger is seen in things like “Common buildings insurance exclusions may include: Damage from general wear and tear & wilful neglect of the property“. That part matters, because the failing fire doors, non-working water pipes for firefighting as well as other elements. Now add the quote from the Conversation (at http://theconversation.com/yes-the-grenfell-tower-fire-is-political-its-a-failure-of-many-governments-79599), which was: “Worse, it has been reported that the London Fire Authority actually wrote to all boroughs as recently as April, advising them of their concerns on the use of some kinds of cladding panels. A number of expert reports have argued in favour of revising the building regulations, notably following the inquiry into the 2009 Lakanal House fire in Southwark in which six people died. The fact that the Lakanal House fire was eight years ago and building regulations have still not been updated demonstrates a complete failure to learn the lessons from previous disasters and take speedy corrective action“. We now see a clear path to both ‘Damage from general wear and tear‘, the fire doors and ‘Wilful neglect of the property‘ optionally the fire doors, the writing of the Local Fire Authority and the non-actions on the cladding. In these cases as well as most other buildings the insurance companies can basically walk away, leaving the tenants with a nightmare scenario. They did not and there is decades of evidence that insurance companies are in a black letter law cold environment in the heat of pretty much every fire. So this is about more than merely ‘a helping hand‘. This is about the SWOT where their position was in strength; the building cooperation as well as the local government were in a place of Weakness, the Opportunity is a nice premium rise giving them many millions a year more, with one year as optional collateral loss and the Threat is close to none, optionally the initial builders will get billed to some extend as well, making the optional losses for the insurance companies even lower than initially penciled in.

For this and the previous government it is a quick fix as well as a nice setting where everyone walks away without an invoice, the only thing that this government has to agree to is the coming premium rise and as the amount seems small, they will not oppose it, the one thing that bites is that all home owners will be likely to get that increase, cladding or not. And as we get bad news management through optimistic news, we see messages like “Flood Re confirmed that the announcement comes on the back of its decision not to pass on the annual increase to premium thresholds in April“, yet later this year we will with a decent measure of ‘most likely’ get news like: ‘The added risks as well as the additional costs of upgrading the buildings that have Grenfell like cladding have forced us to add a short term increase to all premiums, so that there will be no dangers to those currently in hazardous setting of coverage against fire’, yet I personally feel certain that all those not in those buildings, where the rule “Common buildings insurance exclusions may include: Wilful neglect of the property“. Those people will still take a hit on their claim if they have one.

I admit that a lot of it is based on personal experience (not fire based though) and in light of thousands of complaints in the past, my vision in what is likely to happen, might be correct and even conservative in the projected changes. Even as I am willing to grant the response that we see with: “Then we arrive and we are the big bad wolf, because the claim is not covered“, I personally see this as the people expect a spirit of the insurance setting whilst insurance firms see only a ‘black letter insurance policy setting‘. It is a view that the legal minds understand, but that might be the only group that does. It is an idiomatic antithesis that tends to settle in the world of laws (especially taxation laws). It is important to understand that I used to see the insurance companies as ‘white collar criminals’, but not anymore. I think that this is a deeper issue that we are all mostly ignorant to. It is almost a given that spirit of law and letter of law should be taught in secondary school. It is an important skill for anyone to have by the time they get their first house and get the insurances they need. It is an important view as this one setting in London giving us the realisation that the insurance companies are embracing the spirit of the insurance, not the letter of it; yet I personally believe that this is done to create a windfall that gives these companies millions down the track for a very long time to come. We can argue that they offer a cheaper solution for those who are faces with many thousands of pounds in cladding costs, yet others will not feel the same. I was not alone in this path, Reuters gave us last October “While they cannot change existing insurance cover, renewals, many of which fall due in Jan or April 2018, will give them a chance to adjust prices or policy wordings to mitigate their risks“, and so they already had something. The question becomes, what is the cost of mitigating risk? The people will find out when they get their news premium invoice in 2019. Then we can see just how conservative my numbers were. I do expect to see the changes being released earlier that year as it will be an option for insurance companies to poach new customers from those giving voice to higher than expected premiums.

So even as we were given “AXA had upgraded its administration so that information on the number of tall buildings it insures or the type of cladding they are using is more easily available, helping to identify risks quickly“, as well as “Zurich Municipal would work with customers “to help them manage these exposures”“, the question is what exposure?

Is that exposure to the expected risk, or to the risk of getting exposed to upgraded premiums?

 

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How to design a death trap

The Grenfell inquiry is still going on and the last testimony from Dr Barbara Lane is not just an eye opener, it shows two elemental parts. The first is that the ‘stay put’ scenario could never have worked, the second one is that the cladding itself had the additional issue of getting set against combustible materials. That does not make the person who decided on the cladding innocent, it merely proves that the people behind it all failed in spectacular ways. The first part given is “Styrofoam core panels were installed between the new windows and around kitchen vents; ethylene propylene diene terpolymer was used around the new window frames; and polyurethane expanding foam was used to fill joints in the insulation and in gaps between new windows and walls – all combustible materials. She also found combustible polymeric foam above some windows, even though there was no evidence of it being specified, and polyisocyanurate foam that was not in the design” This states that not only was there more combustible materials, there was additional combustible materials that were not even part of the design. So someone acted, someone approved those additional costs. Then we get the first killer. With “horizontal cavity barriers designed to stop fire spreading through the facade had wrongly been installed vertically. They feature an intumescent strip that is meant to expand and close the gap during a fire, but some of these barriers were installed facing into the existing concrete, rendering them useless. She said some of the required cavity barriers had simply not been installed around windows“, we see not merely a construction error, a direct flaw on parts that would stop fires, or at least largely decrease the speed was done wrong and now we see that the building had ‘vent columns‘ to allow the fire to reach maximum speed. At this point, we have issues with procurement, with the installation and construction inspection. Optionally, the architectural setting was wrong, which gives us a failing on nearly every level from the council to the person telling the man with the drill what to do and where to do it. I think that this is a first for me, to see failing to this degree. The stay put was basically a death sentence in 30 minutes. It is the additional “more than 100 fire doors inside Grenfell did not meet fire regulations” that gives the light that the corridors would have been as deadly as the apartment to stay put in, in close to 30 minutes. She gives a few more points, but at this stage, what she gives out is that the killing blow would have been close to a given when those remained inside beyond the first 15 minutes. The article ends with “The same compartmentalisation strategy was essential for firefighting internally, which relied on a working firefighting lift, protected lobbies, ways of getting water up the buildings, a protected space between the firefighting stair and the flats. All of these failed to one degree or another“, now we see that Grenfell was a death-trap for tenants and firefighters alike, the fact that no firefighter died that day is a small miracle to say the least.

So in all this, when we consider the Telegraph article a day earlier (a clear reason for a second Leveson), we see a different side. The article job is a hatchet job by Hayley Dixon, a person who should not be allowed in journalism (a personal belief on mine due to this one article). So when we get back to the title ‘Grenfell survivors question why it took 15 minutes for firefighters to tackle initial blaze‘, and as Hayley Dixon published this at 21:30 local time the previous day. Was this the result of writers block? Was this a mere emotional writing of 104 words to meet a deadline requirement? If so, how irresponsible is the editor? When we put the Telegraph article next to the Independent, the Guardian and the testimony of Dr Barbara Lane, we are confronted with the emotional push of some kind? You see, the setting we see now, the videos that are online and the pictures clearly show that there was nothing normal about the fire and that Grenfell was a constructed death-trap in the shape of a Roman candle. Additional views (from the Independent) gave us “One survivor reported that building’s dry risers – vertical pipes used by firefighters to distribute water to multiple levels of a building – were not working“, so in all this, how was the Telegraph article not merely a waste of space and existence?

This entire fish gets another flavour when we consider an earlier BBC article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40330789). In this we see “Four ministers – all from the Department for Communities and Local Government – received letters but did not strengthen the regulations. Ronnie King, a former chief fire officer who sits on the group, says the government has ignored repeated warnings about tower block safety. “We have spent four years saying ‘Listen, we have got the evidence, we’ve provided you with the evidence, there is clear public opinion towards this, you ought to move on this’,” said Mr King.”” we would expect that at least some move would be made and even as the cladding and other issues now showing would not have stopped anything, better regulations might have at least delayed enough for people to reconsider getting out. So who gets to be on the front page? Yes it is Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams – who was then a minister in the department – replied: “I have neither seen nor heard anything that would suggest that consideration of these specific potential changes is urgent and I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward“. This can be countered by the BBC (at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40422922, where we see “London Fire Brigade warned all 33 councils about the potential risks of external cladding on tower blocks in May this year, the BBC has learned. It followed tests on panels from a high rise that suffered a fire last August. The insulation panels were made up of polystyrene and plywood, and tests concluded they were the likely cause of the fire spreading up the outside“, so there was clear evidence from May 2017 (after his ‘reign’), yet the issues had been clear put forward in 2014 when he was there. He remains in our sights when we realise that this had been going on since 2009, as it was highlighted at the coroner’s inquest into a fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell in 2009, which led to the deaths of six people, including three children. So at that point, the words of Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams become a statement of falsehood the moment he spoke them in 2014. When we hear ‘I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward‘, whilst there is a clear coroner’s inquest regarding 6 people, including 3 children, when did ‘disrupt the work of this department‘ become an accepted answer?

I am not sure if we could blame the London Fire Brigade from walking away in the future and let 100% of London burn down, you know, they would not want to ‘disrupt any department‘ by caring, now would they?

The fact is just slightly too dark when we consider that there was ample evidence up to 9 years before the Grenfell blaze. If there is one positive, we might see a change where councils need the office of Dany Cotton, or the office of her previous post where she was the Director of Safety and Assurance at the London Fire Brigade, to sign off on any refurbishment before allowing it to happen. It would optionally stop every council from seeking a ‘short cut’ to adhere to the wishes of rich investors. I am mentioning this, because it will have to be said again and again that the refurbishment and cladding was added “a low-cost way of improving the front of the building – was chosen in part so that the tower would look better when seen from the conservation areas and luxury flats that surround North Kensington, according to planning documents, as well as to insulate it” (source: The Independent). So as luxury flat owners nearby thought Grenfell was too yucky, it ended up being upgraded from apartment building to Roman candle.

I believe that the testimony of Dr Barbara Lane is one of the most damaging to the council, the constructors and decision makers in the refurbishment of Grenfell we have ever seen, the question will turn soon enough into: ‘how many death-traps are there in London?’ It is merely my personal view that there is a level of complacency to set the economic values of London in a way that might be way too dangerous for the people living there. If we see these issues in North Kensington and Chelsea, what would we find if there was an actual serious look at a council like Islington? The fact that Islington is overcrowded, it is growing in the sparkling area for socialites and professionals, so the visibility is high. Even as the London Metropolitan Police is working hard to lower the rising crime number, the impact of a Grenfell like event in Islington will do more than merely burn a building and the people in there. now, let’s also realise that Islington is nowhere near the worst, Also, the high rise situation seems a lot better, yet the overcrowded part seems to give ‘rise’ to other considerations and whilst we all focus on high rises, there are other ways for fires to propagate. Another reason to raise Islington is that so far its housing strategy (2014-2019) looks nice (as all brochures are), we also see that house prices are close to 50% higher than the London average, so the damage is a lot bigger if things do go pear shaped. I also raised it as I know it decently well, yet the brochure on page 29, who gives us all the acts and strategies and legislation gives no voice to the fire dangers. The Housing Act 2004 does give two mentions, ‘Consultation with fire and rescue authorities in certain cases‘ as well as ‘miscellaneous repeals etc. in relation to fire hazards‘, yet there is more. You see even as the brochure might look less sexy by mentioning an issue like: “Depending on the type of property and how it is occupied some or all of the following will apply:

  • the Building Regulations 2010 Part B
  • Housing Health & Safety Rating System
  • The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The issue we see with Grenfell is the lack of fire prevention focus, the Housing Strategy for Islington 2014-2019 shows that there is a mere reference to the Housing Act 2004, yet housing strategy is a lot larger towards tenancy and Asset management, and in a place as overcrowded as Islington it could become a problem. Now we understand that Grenfell is only a year old, yet there is additional evidence on several levels that this is an issue that had been going on since 2009, so even as we ‘brand’ Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams by his extremely poorly chosen words. He is not alone in not having a much larger fire safety focus. The question becomes if the councils were much stronger on fire prevention, would Grenfell have been prevented? My personal believe is that this would be an absolute certain. The failings that Dr Barbara Lane gave testimony on reflects the failing on nearly every level, so as more levels need to mandatory look at certain hazards, issues would have been brought to light (a personal belief), in this London (not just Kensington and Chelsea) have a much larger workload to content with and these changes would require a reflection on a multitude of levels in the coming year. Even as we accept that voices from Islington stated “Fire safety in Islington. We are the landlord/freeholder for over 35,000 households, and we take our responsibility for your safety very seriously“, we accept that this is a response to Grenfell, yet the housing strategy also shown that there was not enough focus in the past. One additional page in that brochure on certain (read: specific) hazards could have given light that the Islington council had that focus, we now merely see (read: expect) that this is not entirely the case.

London and a lot more metropolitan areas like London mind you will have to adjust their current course on actions and considerations when it comes to fire hazard, because we do not want the London population to wake up looking at the speculative sights shown below from a distance.

Rotterdam 1940

 

OR

Hawaii 2012

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This bull and a red flag

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 :

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

MATERIAL CONDUCTIVITY DENSITY
Aluminium 210 2.71
Graphite (pyrolytic, some planes) 300-1500 1.3-1.95
Graphene (theoretical) 5020 n/a
Carbon Nanotube (theoretical) 3500 N/A
Carbon Fiber 21-180 1.78
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?

 

 

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