Tag Archives: KCTMO

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!

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics

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!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

Flames of the blame game

The Guardian gave us a story on Wednesday and it was a story. Now, we can argue that there are more than a few markers in place, So when we see “The British system for fire testing building materials is utterly inadequate and underestimates the ferocity and spread of real blazes, a study commissioned after the Grenfell Tower disaster has claimed“, that might be good and proper (still debatable), yet the part that seems to be skated over, the icing of denial so to say is the facts that I had were a given in June 2017. They were in the Reynobond PE brochure. It has two important messages. The first being ‘This test method measures flame growth on the underside of a horizontal test specimen, using the Steiner tunnel test‘, that is interesting as we know that cladding tends to go vertical, so why not do a vertical test? The second was “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high“, these two alone should have stopped the dangers in its track. A request for a vertical flame test for the Grenfell building, as well as the need for a written confirmation that Reynobond PE was in fact the acceptable option for this building. Merely the application of common sense in the entire matter and the article by Robert Booth should have reflected that. So when I get to read “But they fail to reflect how materials burn in the real world, according to a highly critical report published on Wednesday by the Association of British Insurers (ABI)“, I start wondering who the stooge is that is taking the heat for the massive blunders that got 71 people charcoaled. I saw that within 5 minutes whilst reading up on the basic facts on the matter that basic issues had been negated, or merely ignored. So it is not what the ABI is suddenly preaching on how systems were outdated, it was the mere application of common sense and the lack of it within the council (or is that the KCTMO) to sign off on these matters got 71 people murdered, because when we consider the absence of common sense, they are not people, or victims that were killed, they ended up being the collateral damage of a mass murder, that is how we should see it, and that is how I personally regard that to be. When we consider “a building is significantly more flammable than the British Standards Institution test BS8414 shows“. When we consider the Evening Standard in August 2017, where we see “Alison Saunders said that although investigations were at a “very early stage” gross negligence manslaughter was among the offences that prosecutors will consider if police find enough evidence“. The mere documents I found (product brochures), seem to hold that part of the evidence, unless proper fire testing was done and Raynobond had given a written guarantee that Raynobond PE would suffice for the additional 21 storeys, there is a first setting of evidence that ‘gross negligence manslaughterwould already be an option that seems to fit (for now). Yet the Guardian also had important goods on June 16th 2017. With company director, John Cowley stating “Omnis had been asked to supply Reynobond PE cladding, which is £2 cheaper per square metre than the alternative Reynobond FR, which stands for “fire resistant” to the companies that worked on refurbishing Grenfell Tower“, so as we move from Omnis Exteriors to Harley Facades, where was the council in all this? So when we see “the Fire Protection Association (FPA), an industry body, has been pushing for years for the government to make it a statutory requirement for local authorities and companies to use only fire-retardant material. Jim Glocking, technical director of the FPA, said it had “lobbied long and hard” for building regulations on the issue to be tightened, but nothing had happened“, we see that the law had been inadequate for a long time, yet in addition to this This against the latest article where we see “The BS8414 test is overseen by the BSI, a private company appointed by the government as the national standards body. The panel that drew up the rules for the test include representatives from the plastic foam insulation industry. The BRE, which carries out the tests, is the former government building research station that was privatised in 1997“.

You see, these two statements are the actual ballgame now. When we consider that: “as the UK’s National Standards Body, the BSI is also responsible for the UK publication, of international as well as European standards. BSI is obliged to adopt and publish all European Standards as identical British Standards (prefixed BS EN) and to withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict“, so when we accept that and also accept that “Frankfurt’s fire chief, Reinhard Ries, said he was appalled at the fire at Grenfell Tower and said tighter fire-safety rules for tower blocks in Germany meant that a similar incident could not happen there. US building codes also restrict the use of metal-composite panels without flame-retardant cores on buildings above 15 metres” a statement that the Guardian gave in June 2017, we see that there is a massive amount of systemic failures. With ‘withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict‘, there is an implication that whilst the BSI was ‘privatised’ it never ended up doing its job (a speculative assumption that seemingly holds water after reading several accounts). The massive requirement for much higher fire protection levels imply just that and in all this, people hid behind a veil of insecure assurances and in all this ignorance is not a defence, not by my standards and not in court.

So when we take a look at that fire test that the BSI has (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4KA8S4yLoI), I personally get the feeling that Raynobond PE was never properly tested in this way (or any way for that matter), not before the fire at least, so when we look at the mess of interactions, I wonder what it will take and that too was covered by the Guardian when we see the quote “Cressida Dick, said on Wednesday that detectives were a long way from passing files to the Crown Prosecution Service and that she had asked for extra government funding over several years to help cover the costs of the inquiry“, I think that it goes further than this, the entire sales trajectory, the entire consultancy path from deciding on the parts to be ordered and the implementation of it all shows to be a clear factor and all the documents give rise to a much larger problem. When we see the mere interaction that the BSI is claiming to have and what we get as response from Germany (a EU nation) implies that the foundation of fire protection is just not there. The statement by the Fire Protection Association (FPA) bears this out.

The final part is the impact of choice. ITV gave us “The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation – which managed and maintained the council’s housing stock – decided to put the contract back out to tender and Rydon ended up agreeing to take it on for £8.7 million“, which puts the KCTMO in the hot seat, almost literally. You see the cost cutting had influence on several fronts and there is no way that it was all personnel. They also gave us “On Thursday night Rydon repeated its assertion that all the refurbishment work carried out at Grenfell Tower met both building and fire regulation standards and was signed off by the council. Grenfell Tower was built in 1974. The refurbishment project was, in theory, an opportunity to retrofit the building with a sprinkler system but it wasn’t taken. I’m told the idea wasn’t even discussed“, so which ‘fire regulation standards‘ were signed off on and who signed off on it? As we see that there is a huge discrepancy on the fire regulations at all, we can make the assumption that the council, or their representatives will now need to rely on large levels of ‘miscommunication‘, to avoid having to stand in the dock. More important, there is a desperate need to get these documents collected and soon, before they accidently go missing through the use of ‘Miss Filing‘ and her alleged ability to conveniently place documents, that poor lady does get blamed too often for too many things, ain’t that the truth!

In this I will end with the setting that Huw Evans, the director general of the ABI opened. He gives us the quote: “This latest research is yet more evidence that fundamental reform is needed to keep our homes and commercial premises safe from fire. It is a matter of urgency that we create the right testing regime that properly replicates real world conditions and keeps pace with building innovation and modern design“, yet as the director general of the Association of British Insurers he should have been aware, clearly aware that is that the task of the BSI, The British Standards Institution is to ‘withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict‘, and with the quotes seen, as well as presented settings regarding the prohibition panelling which we got from Frankfurt’s fire chief, Reinhard Ries regarding ‘tighter fire-safety rules for tower blocks in Germany meant that a similar incident could not happen there‘, we need to wonder how cladding is set (if it is set) in Europe as per the European Committee for Standardization. Yet none of these spokespeople seems to make reference to that did they? That is the setting we see and we see it from several sources, which now gives the question in all this, what is Huw Evans actually targeting, because it is not merely the overhaul of BS8414. The mere lack of mention in the cladding process because when we see the mention of the Hackitt review (independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety by Dame Judith Hackitt, at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/668831/Independent_Review_of_Building_Regulations_and_Fire_Safety_web_accessible.pdf), that part is not merely showing parts of the entire matter to be a joke, the findings on page 67 of that report “Contributors believe products are marketed with specification data presented in ways which can easily be misinterpreted. Indeed, individual elements are often used as part of compound systems that are not fully tested as systems“, the findings I had from one brochure (Raynobond PE) shows that the cladding should never have been used in the first place. In addition on that same page we see “The standards of workmanship for the installation of some safety-critical products (e.g. cladding) is not made explicit in the Approved Documents“, which is odd to state the least, I get that it is in the report, yet the fact that the KCTMO might not have set minimal levels, whilst approving a party for £2.5 million less should have been foremost on their minds. In addition, the application of: ‘the Approved Documentsmight be valid, but it leaves me with a whole range of additional questions. Here is that report: Attached

And we need to consider on page 6 “I am aware that some building owners and landlords are waiting for direction from this review on what materials should be used to replace cladding that has been identified as inadequate“, shows that whilst the Europeans have settings for standards on fire prevention, the BSI has not set the target that high, even as we saw ‘withdraw pre-existing British Standards that are in conflict‘, giving us more questions regarding the BSI, as such it seems that the tenants are in a much more dire situation, because there is every chance that Huw Evans, the director general of the Association of British Insurers is all about the insurance part and what he sees so far could spell that the overall insurance of apartments in high rises are prone to larger insurance premium increases than one would usually expect and there is a precedent for Huw to do just that, even if we do not grant insurances any consideration in the most optimum of times, they do have the right to up the premium if the risk warrants it, so in that regard, well over 350 buildings are loaded with tenants that will see their premiums spike as per next year’s insurance bill, that is, if the ABI is willing to wait that long, because that is at present not a given. Not when you tailored yourself for the Financial Times interview on April 25th.

Even I had not predicted the Grenfell situation to be a mess so complete that one might actually wonder how anyone has any value regarding safety or quality, it seems that there are many tainted sides to all this and that just like the blogger who in 2013 got the Metro to give us (at http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/14/council-threatened-blogger-with-legal-action-over-grenfell-tower-warnings-6708453/) “A local blogger who highlighted the danger in Grenfell Tower was sent a legal letter by lawyers working for the local council – accusing him of defamation and harassment” as well as “The letter, which was allegedly sent in 2013, was sent by a solicitor working for Kensington Town Hall. The local group behind the blog alleged that there had been serious failings on fire safety“, this was published Wednesday 14th Jun 2017, whilst the letter was from 2013, if the Grenfell Action Group can produce that letter for the media, we have the partial evidence of a much larger issue, the issue that certain dangers were optionally, optionally because the refurbishments were not completed until 2016, an actual danger. If any of the elements of the blog are shown to be there at the night of the fire, we see more than a systemic failure, we see clear Kensington Council acts that were in place to minimise exposure of dangers. And in that I will state that it only holds grounds if the letter and the 2013 blog show elements that were a true fact after the fire. The mere fact that the council struck out to a blogger is an actual concern as well. This is not about freedom of speech, it is the fact on what was written, but I need both to ascertain whether the Metro had anything viable at that time.

With so many fingers in several pies and so many ‘considerations’ of the pastries that is set on a large table named Grenfell, there is the danger that any interaction and any connected evidence will delay official acts, investigations and proceedings more and more is now a serious consideration whether in the end prosecution of any party remains viable. It would upset so many players but the question is realistic enough and that is not a good thing, not in this time and place.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

Physical vs Virtual (part1)

The Guardian has two elements today; they are not connected, not in any way. Yet they are both important and they do connect in other ways and that part is actually a lot more important than you think, let’s take a look at part 1.

Physicality

To upset the reader, I will start with ‘On 14th June 2017 there was a clambake in North Kensington!‘ 71 people lost their lives and an almost equal number of people were seriously injured. I have written about it in previous blogs in both June and September 2017. It was renovated and that job was completed in 2016. Now, I can give you all the names, but the names actually do not matter at present, the issue of renovation was however more important. An interesting and slightly more important part is ‘the then housing Minister Gavin Barwell, refused requests for meetings‘, we will look at him later. You see there is an even larger issue, not the obvious ones, the ones I gave in June 2017 showing that there was published evidence that the entire choice of purchase was already a hazard by the selling company. No, it gets worse ‘Cladding added to Grenfell Tower to ‘improve view for nearby luxury flats’‘, this is what the Metro gave on June 14th 2017. Charles White had the scoop. We can also take the view “Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 and housed low-income families in Latimer Road, North Kensington“, so the cladding was added to make their presence less sickening to those around them. Well, as Roman candles go, those rich neighbours really had one ready for the victims of Grenfell didn’t they? In all this, and all the fuck ups that were saw, witnessed and in equal measure saw the media partially avoid, did no one see the brochure where we saw “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high“, the mere setting in the brochure and these highly paid individuals never bothered to ask the question and get on paper the certification for a 24 storey building? So how about the extension of 21 floors? It would be on top of my mind, but then I am not a graduated civil engineer. I merely don’t trust anyone trying to sell me ‘a great deal‘, not without proper investigation. So when I read ‘Leaseholders of flats face £40,000 bills over Grenfell type cladding‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/19/leaseholders-of-flats-face-40000-bills-over-grenfell-type-cladding). I wonder who should pay for all this, the luxury flat neighbours (implied that they pushed for a ‘better view’, they certainly got that whilst the fire brigades required 60 hours to fully stop the fires and close to 48 hours to remove the charcoal cadavers that used to be tenants in that building. Is this description upsetting you and making you angry? Good! I want you to be angry, because there is a systemic failure in the London boroughs when it comes to housing and it is still there. So whilst we see that Gavin might be all about ‘How to Win a Marginal Seat: My Year Fighting For My Political Life‘ and less about meeting with people who have genuine concerns on the safety of their lives, a person who was Minister for London as well as Minister of State for Housing and Planning seemed to have been in the middle of it all AFTER the renovation. So, even as his reign was flawed by not acting, we equally need to put Brandon Lewis, now the Chairman of the Conservative Party, as well as Kris Hopkins, who is now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Northern Ireland Office in the spotlight. Even as Gavin has the gavel of dumbness, he was not there when it started and that has to be acknowledged in equal measure. The entire cladding issue is a mess from a civil, an engineering a political and a legal aspect. It is rare for something like that to fail on pretty much every level. That and a few other matters give rise to a much larger investigation, because if I can get angry and demand investigations into the EU gravy train, my anger on this mess needs to be even greater. And there is a growing number of pieces of evidence. With the ‘2009 Lakanal House fire, in Camberwell, South London, six died and at least twenty injured‘, the Guardian reported (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/24/southwark-council-admits-safety-failings-tower-block-lakanal-house-blaze), in February 2017, LONG BEFORE THE GRENFELL FIRE, reported ‘Southwark council pleads guilty over worst ever tower block fire‘, that alone should have pushed Gavin Barwell into action, yet there we see ehhh… nothing. There was a big nothing done, even a blogger who got told “The council had threatened the Grenfell Action Group with legal action in 2013 in a bid to prevent the group criticising the council, saying that such criticism amounted to “defamation and harassment”.” Again it is the Metro who gives us “The letter, which was allegedly sent in 2013, was sent by a solicitor working for Kensington Town Hall“, so can we please see the name of that solicitor published as well as the people he was representing? You see, that letter was in response from someone and we should be told who that someone was. In addition, me, myself, I and a whole range of people, including family members of the charcoaled tenants will have some loud questions for that person. In this we end up with even more questions as ‘Robert Black, the Chief Executive of KCTMO, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation responsible for managing Grenfell Tower on behalf of the council‘, which the Independent gave us is according to the Coventry Telegraph. You see, when we consider the mess already in place, and we accept that Retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick is the appointed legal person to lead the public inquiry. How can anyone accept “The board wishes to ensure that KCTMO remains best positioned to fully co-operate and assist with the inquiry and so it has agreed with its chief executive, Robert Black, that Mr Black should step aside from his role as chief executive of KCTMO in order that he can concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry“, in this the quote “The welfare of the residents of KCTMO remains the primary concern of the board” reads like a joke, 4 years of inaction, 4 years to miss what I saw in 5 minutes and three more facts of endangering the people living in Grenfell, which I found within the 30 minutes after that. In all this there is every chance that Robert Black is all about making sure that some questions are not asked and that some pieces of evidence are ‘not to be shown to the prosecution‘, the last part is merely speculation on my side, yet I wonder if anyone will be able to prove me wrong in the end.

So as we now get back to the other building where: “Residents of 80 flats whose freeholds are managed by a company owned by David Cameron’s half brother-in-law are each facing bills of up to £40,000 because the building is clad with flammable panels similar to those used on Grenfell Tower, in London“, I am less concerned who is a family member of who. I am more interested in the entire timeline on how cladding was chosen and how it was approved. If there is one clear timeline in evidence than it is the one where it is more and more clear that those connected to Grenfell were utterly incompetent, or they just didn’t know what they were doing. So even as all these boroughs will carry the weight of the Grenfell victims, we need to see the clear timeline for each building separately and in that Dominic Raab, the now Minister of State for Housing and Planning, is handed the nightmare scenario of a lifetime. Yet in all this, if he can pull through and improve the mess we are facing now, he won’t just meet with happy tears of joy from those around him, he could show that when true justice is found and that the matters are strong set in both legislation and borough procedure, there is every chance that his ascension as a future Prime Minister is not out of the question. For one man to show the failure of years of predecessors (with Alok Sharma being optionally acquitted to some extent in all this) there will be shouts of joy. I intentionally set Alok Sharma in that light because even as the surviving tenants of Grenfell have been failed in several ways, we need to be honest and fair and assess what resources Alok Sharma had available. I actually do not have those details or access to that data. As such I refuse to paint him in the same colours that his predecessors deserve. And the mess is still not over, that is seen (at https://www.lgcplus.com/services/housing/kensington-and-chelsea-too-slow-to-rehouse-grenfell-survivors/7023801.article) where we get the following parts all together making the mess even more severe.

  • Mr Raab said: “[There are] 208 households that require housing – of which, 59 have accepted temporary accommodation and 60 are in permanent accommodation.” That is up 16 since 25 January.
  • Ms Dent Coad said: “In November, we were told there were 209 displaced households, but I was given the true figures from the council’s housing department which was 376. “There’s just a total mismatch, originally we were told displaced people made homeless was 863 so these figures have been washed, let’s just put it like that.”
  • “There’s just a total mismatch, originally we were told displaced people made homeless was 863 so these figures have been washed, let’s just put it like that.” Housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid responded saying Ms Dent Coad’s statistics referred to the wider estate and not the Grenfell tower and walkway alone.

So we have Emma Dent Coad, the MP for Kensington, Dominic Raab, now Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid needing to explain in the Local Government Chronicle that on one matter Emma Dent Coad and Dominic Raab cannot communicate in the same version of English, it merely is an exercise in miscommunication, and there is an issue of mistrust from the tenants? I am not at all surprised, merely surprised that a gang with pitchforks and torches have not moved in to deal with black magic and witchcraft, for such levels of miscommunication pretty much warrants that, especially if Robert Black ends up being related to the other Black family, something JK Rowling mentioned in some way in the recent past (that was a funny, for those who cannot read between the lines).

It is an almost intolerable mess and it seems that other buildings, especially the overreacting and not properly investigating management firms are now crying fowl (in the end someone has to be the Turkey in all this) and lashing the bills on anyone’s desk (allegedly) where they could possible pass the buck (read: £40,000). All this in a setting of physicality of events, paper trails that are either so murky that a team of barristers cannot decipher it and half-baked agreements where it is unclear if the tenants were ever properly informed. Finally in this matter there is Sir Martin Moore-Bick. That side is important when we see (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40491449), you see, I disagree. There is absolutely no case for “Labour’s Emma Dent Coad said Sir Martin Moore-Bick was “a technocrat” who lacked “credibility” with victims“, this is about the law. And someone like Emma Dent Coad, who got elected with a 0.05% margin (20 votes) with merely a degree from the Royal College of Art with an MA in History of Design has no real setting to judge on law does she? At least I myself do have two law degrees, one of them a master degree (they are Australian though) as well as a graduate degree in Internet working, so I am at least also technologically savvy. In addition the BBC piece gives us nothing more than the focus on one overturned case. I think that ignoring the 20 years as a judge of the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal warrants his appointment. The entire labour arsenal is all shouting to ‘connect’ to people, yet to properly investigate all matters; it is a step of legislation and logic, not emotion. Is there a better person to head the inquiry? I do not know, but in equal measure there is no evidence that he is the wrong person. In all as it comes to law and optional lack thereof, there is absolutely no evidence that Emma Dent Coad is qualified to be an MP; she was merely elected as Member of Parliament for Kensington. Sir Martin Moore-Bick is overly qualified as a judge, it is the distinction that makes the setting, and her ‘miscommunication‘ quoted earlier should give additional doubt to her point of view in all this.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

Under cover questions

Yes, it has been a week. When the fire was first reported I steered clear. It was a fire. What was weird was the ferociousness of the fire, I had questions from the moment I saw the fire, but I waited. I had no Intel, I had no facts and it was a fire after all. Fires happen. Yet, those who saw the limelight seeking photos from the Telegraph might have noticed a thing or two. You see, the fire was like a fire that Hollywood could not do. The Towering inferno was not that intense. The fact that the fire had a casualty list that is massive is also an odd part in all this. So I decided to wait, I would not be the one shouting arson on something that was not that. The consequence is a little too unsettling. Yet now, a week later I found myself collecting what I could. It started with the noise on cladding.

The first thing I found was a similar issue in Victoria, Australia. On April 30th 2015 we see: “Testing conducted by the CSIRO in mid-April on behalf of MFB found that the Alucobest cladding material installed by building company failed to comply with high-rise combustibility requirements“, in addition there is “The external cladding material on this building did not prevent the spread of the fire as required by the Building Code of Australia,” said MFB chief officer Peter Rau“. It was a fire that happened in 2014. So these events had been happening for years. This now gets us to Rydon Ltd in East Sussex. They got the job, because they were £2.5 million cheaper. Like in the Towering Inferno, that place went down in the story because of cutting corners. So my initial thought was that this might be the case here too. The question is ‘Was that the case?‘ You see, it is all good and fine in books, but the reality is how were the materials tested, how did the makers of the original cladding present their materials? One of the parts is ‘Celotex RS5000 PIR thermal insulation‘, when we look at those specification we see: “Fire propagation ‘BS 476: Part 6′, Pass” and “Surface spread of flame ‘BS 476: Part 7′, Class 1“. It comes with the footnote “The fire performance and classification report issued only relates to the components detailed above. Any changes to the components listed will need to be considered by the building designer”

The entire issue becomes more of a mess when we consider that ITV business editor Joel Hills stated that he had been told that the installation of sprinklers had not even been discussed (at http://www.itv.com/news/2017-06-15/grenfell-tower-original-proposed-contractor-was-dropped-to-reduce-cost-of-refurbishment-project/), the ITV article focusses on the ‘cost saving‘ which is correct, yet the one part they do not raise is whether the materials were up to scrap. In addition they do mention two parts that are essential. One is “In 2013 the government wrote to every local authority to encourage them to retrofit sprinkler systems in older tower blocks. It did so at the request of a coroner who leads an inquest into a fire in Camberwell in which six people died“, the second one was “Before passing judgement on whether the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management therefore acted irresponsibly, bear in mind that, according to the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, only 100 older tower blocks in Britain have been retrofitted with sprinklers since 2013. Around 4,000 have not“, the councils were apparently put off by the costs, which in this was about £1150 per apartment. We read more about these tests as presented by Celotax (at http://www.ecosafene.com/EN/firetesting/building/228.html), so we get some clarity here. Yet the surface flame test (BS 476-7, linked in the referred page), gives us “Extinguish the pilot flame 1 min after the start of the test“, yet these numbers will not add up, because there were no sprinklers, no dousing the flame, so the entire operation will be working on different elements. This does not invalidate the test, yet if I look at the Ecosafene site I am now looking at ‘BS 476-15Fire Tests on Building Materials for Measuring the Rate of Heat Release‘ as well as ‘BS 476-5 Fire Test to Building Material for Ignitablity‘, you see, this caught fire somehow, after that Bob is your crispy dead uncle (in this case). Yet in all this, we did not mention Celotex. Their site gives us “As with the rest of the nation our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London. On Wednesday, as soon as we were able to, we confirmed that our records showed a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. We wanted to provide an update to that statement and provide further information as we are able to. It is important to state that Celotex manufacture rigid board insulation only. We do not manufacture, supply or install cladding. Insulation is one component in a rain screen system, and is positioned in that system behind the cladding material“, It is what we now see in the Metro that kinda takes the biscuit. “Controversial cladding was added to Grenfell Tower in part to improve the view for nearby luxury flats“, which must have been a nice clambake to watch I reckon. It is the term ‘Controversial cladding‘ that now becomes the focus. You see, the Birmingham Mail and others are all about: “Grenfell Tower £8 million refurbishment ‘met all required standards’“, yet the fire does seem to tell a different story. The Guardian has another article linked to all this. The article ‘Complex chain of companies that worked on Grenfell Tower raises oversight concerns‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/15/long-builder-chain-for-grenfell-a-safety-and-accountability-issue) gives a few items a few answers and more questions. In opposition I need to give the quote “Ben Bradford, a fire safety expert who is managing director of the risk consultancy BB7, said the multiple links in the chain of contractors could cause safety problems. “There are probably multiple failings that have occurred in this particular case,” he said. “The work, in terms of fire stopping, often falls to a sub-contractor. They don’t always realise the critical nature of the components they’re installing in the overall system“, I have an issue here. It is not untrue what he is stating, yet the elements on the page give us a little clarity. You see Rydon used Harley Curtain. This setup is not unique. Rydon cannot afford the amount of people needed, hence a subcontractor is used. They would work according to the requirements of Rydon. That link is seen with the subsequent links to Celotex and Arconic. So Celotex is the insulator and we saw all those links, yet now the actual cladding remains. ‘Reynobond PE‘, in the end Rydon had to sign off on that, in clarity, at present Rydon is the responsible part (until valid defence is given). You see, when we go to Arconic, we see “Reynobond PE features a polyethylene core that adds strength and rigidity to the coil-coated aluminium panels. This maximizes its flexibility and formability, while maintaining a light weight for easy installation“, you see, when I went to High School (early 70’s) I was told that polyethylene was combustible, it is a common trait in the polymer group as they are all inflammable family members. You see, perhaps it is just me, but the brochure states: ‘building code recognition‘, is that the same as passing a test? The tests Canadian fire tests CAN S101, CAN S102 and CAN S134 are a nice mention, yet the idea that an AMERICAN company is relying on Canadian fire tests got me thinking. I have not found the answer; I am merely puzzled by it. The question is what did Rydon know on that part? They are supposed to be the expected experts, I am not!

The question still gives us a concern, you see the fact that the outside got to play the part of Roman candle is one side, at that point the sprinklers inside the building would have been pretty useless at that point. 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‘, the next one is shown (at https://www.astm.org/Standards/E84.htm), here we see “This test method exposes a nominal 24-ft (7.32-m) long by 20-in. (508-mm) wide specimen to a controlled air flow and flaming fire exposure adjusted to spread the flame along the entire length of the select grade red oak specimen in 51/2 min“, in addition they do not give ‘measurement of heat transmission‘, which seems a pretty important element in VERTICAL applied cladding, as flames tend to ignore gravity and move upwards adding to the temperature, for those extra crispy roasted victims. More important the ‘effect of aggravated flame spread behaviour of an assembly resulting from the proximity of combustible walls and ceilings‘ and as polyethylene is combustible, we now have an issue. From my point of view, if Rydon signed off on this there is an issue. Yet more important, the fact that there is documentation that goes back to 2014 in Australia and there are a number of buildings in London that have this issue, London Town there is a much larger issue in play. Now, we see that everyone is bashing Theresa May, and as she made me no Bundt cake I am fine with that. Yet this is a long term failure. It has an impact on several administrations on both sides of the political aisle. There is a clear call, one made by MP David Lammy in the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/grenfell-tower-fire-corporate-manslaughter-arrests-david-lammy-mp-labour-london-kensington-a7790911.html). I agree that ‘corporate manslaughter‘ is more than a fair call. As the Tottenham Labour MP states this, there is a call for the executives of Rydon to explain and show their elements in all this. They should be in defence mode and it could result in their arrest if clear evidence of negligence is found. The elements I found clearly support that and that is merely the 45 minutes getting through some of the brochures and going through the fire tests. You see, the earlier quote from the Birmingham Mail with ‘met all required standards’ does not hack it in my view. I found three issues in mere minutes, so we either have a systematic failure of government allowing this to continue (even more damning in light of the concerns from the occupants that had been going on for some time), the other side is that underlying communications might or might not exist. There is no way to tell until this is brought into the open. David Lammy might not ‘name’ anyone, but I did, and they should be named. Yet that also means that they can and should defend themselves as they might not be the guilty party, but no matter what, they are to a larger extent, the accountable party until properly investigated. And this is not because I am trying to have a go at Rydon, I want this to come out into the open. The failure that we saw burn is just one of several buildings where cladding has been applied to, and as the train wreck is pushed into the limelight carriage after carriage, only then will we see the complete extent of the failure and there is no ‘walk softly’ that option has been taken away by the dozens of fatalities. A little limelight is the least of the problems these people need to face.

Even as we saw the ‘cost saving‘ there is still going to be a backlash to KCTMO, you see, they made a call on the cheaper option, which might be fair, but why was the ‘other‘ solution cheaper? When those elements are brought to the surface there will be questions as they tend to come, fair or not. This all gets to get political soon thereafter as we saw the ‘reasoning’ of ‘improve the view for nearby luxury flats‘, you see, I am not buying a Versace suit so that I look more appealing to my neighbour. She (and he) can bloody well move to Knightsbridge and get a more expensive view there. Yet, that is just me.

rs5000_productdatasheet_aug16

Reynobond_Brochure

 

6 Comments

Filed under Law, Media, Politics, Science