Oh my

Fears were raised that green energy concerns were prioritised ahead of safety as it emerged that cladding used to make the building more sustainable could have accelerated the fire.

Say it ain’t so. Say that a society carried away wi’ the fairies in an extraordinary popular delusion wouldn’t do such a thing.

23 comments on “Oh my

  1. Of course it’s so. Hence why the progressive line on this disaster is all ‘cuts!’ and ‘incompetent landlords’ and ‘social housing is expendable to eeeeevil Tories’…

  2. A similar possibility is that the cladding doesn’t pose a risk when installed correctly, but that this job was done by cowboy builders who didn’t follow the instructions, or who weren’t trained on how to do it properly. That would be a very British result.

    The Germans wouldn’t let anyone touch the building without all the right training and certificates. But then they take vocational & technical education seriously.

  3. Andrew M
    June 15, 2017 at 7:04 am
    A similar possibility is that the cladding doesn’t pose a risk when installed correctly, but that this job was done by cowboy builders who didn’t follow the instructions, or who weren’t trained on how to do it properly. That would be a very British result.

    Isn’t that what Building Control is for?

  4. “Isn’t that what Building Control is for?”

    That would be council run building controls.

    Whichever way you turn this has the hands of the curajus state all over it. Not that that will make ant difference to the final report which will point the finger at vil capitalists.

  5. Awful situation. My thoughts are with the families of the affected.

    The screaming this morning is “Regulations”, “Tory cuts”. Would be darkly ironic if this could have been prevented by using more effective fire retardants banned by EU regulations.

  6. This is entirely logical and humane. This way people burn to death instead of being killed by toxic smoke. Far better no?

    /s

    Apparently buildings used to have to be signed off by firemen, who thus also gained some “Knowledge” about each building.

  7. Didn’t the Australians manage to kill a load of people in Queensland by installing shoddy roof insulation at the government’s insistence some time back?

  8. A similar possibility is that the cladding doesn’t pose a risk when installed correctly, but that this job was done by cowboy builders who didn’t follow the instructions, or who weren’t trained on how to do it properly. That would be a very British result.

    That would be my guess, yes. As you say, I bet this doesn’t happen in Germany.

  9. That is just as much cynical politicking by the T as the Indy bullshit that it was used to give rich people nice views. Both are guilty of bullshitting for clicks.

    Far more likely that the known problems with the system have not been caught yet by slow regulatory intervention in the UK (are banned elsewhere), or poor installation. We do not yet know.

    Poor management of the block is established already – eg all the fire alarm batteries were found to be dead.

  10. To prevent moisture in the outer skin they created a chimney. Not a good idea. iEverything has an ignition point, except stuff that is banned, like asbestos.
    A baffle at each floor allowing air to circulate but would quickly clog with soot, would have confined a fire to one floor. Pumice, some version of goretex, I’m sure there are solutions out there.

  11. I’m just waiting for someone to confirm or refute my guess that a council housing block built in ’74 would have been full of asbestos, and that it was all taken out again in ….?

    Naturally, asbestos would be removed whether it was the potentially nasty blue or brown asbestos, or the harmless white asbestos, because Asbestos!!!

  12. Poor management of the block is established already – eg all the fire alarm batteries were found to be dead.

    They still use batteries in fire alarms?
    Mine at home is wired into the mains, as is the one in the factory where I work so would require a full power outage before they went down (hopefully with a battery backup as well).
    I would have thought that that would be a good reg to introduce if it isn’t already.

  13. As you might expect, John Band from thousands of miles away, blames it on the evil Tories. Lefties truly are shits, aren’t they

  14. Betcha asbestos fire protection was removed in 2016 due to Elfin Safety to remove one hazard, which then introduced a much bigger fire hazard…

  15. Where were the insurance companies in all this? They’re the ones with skin in the game. Normally they’d be all over a building like this, demanding that dangerous materials be removed before providing insurance. Or do councils & housing associations self-insure?

  16. @AndrewM. I know a little of the insurance market for councils as once upon a time I led a team that wrote business strategy and provided the intelligence/market research function for the largest insurer of public sector risk. It won’t be a happy bunch there today I bet, but they might not be on risk for this.

    London borough councils started up an insurance purchasing consortium and they buy collectively. I thought this a bit barmy as they are large commercial risks with an extra complex layer as they are public sector. This means each risk is different to a large extent. There are few insurance companies that can write these risks well as things like this can happen as well as the Public Liability angle from failed services screwing up people’s lives. Thus other insurers come in at a low price thinking there is easy money to made and then a large loss comes along and all your prior years profits are gone, along with future years. New insurer then leaves the market never to return having buggered up pricing for everyone for a while.

    School insurance was like that. Benign and then some bugger sest light to the waste bins alongside a wall which leaves a whole school in ashes. Consortium builds are very common (big open roof void for lovely flames to travel along). We had a claims team that could have a school up and running in temporary structures in 24 hours. Part of the reason to buy from us and something we promoted. But a big school fire costs a fortune and is rare unless you insure lots, so rare that it is hard to price so you look like you are making money when really you are just taking lots of risk.

    Back to the point.. Big councils have lots of retention, an excess if you will, of several million but this will punch through that straight away and up through to the reinsurer. Due to this insurers don’t get too much insight into the detail and check that the maintenance is done and that all the correct rules have been followed. Only when it turns out the rules are inadequate do insurers push exclusions on customers. The consortium school issue was one such so we required sprinklers.

    I sense this cladding issue is reasonable new even if worldwide there have been many losses each country won’t have seen enough to merit a change to terms. This will clearly not be the case now and I guarantee by the weekend new exclusions will be in place however since most renewals are Jan 1st some discussions will be taking place to assess the exposure.

    The one thing I do know is that insurers genuinely do their best to support customers during large losses. Staff are human after all.

  17. From my experience in local government housing (not London), the authority is large enough to take on the risk itself. It was something we would get complaints about – “you’ve got all these reserves, why aren’t you spending them instead of raising the council tax?” Sigh. BECAUSE THEY’RE RESERVES!

  18. And the claim for damages / compensation for potentially a few hundred people dying / injured? I can imagine the council declaring bankruptcy if insurance cannot pay.

  19. Hmm, I read aluminium composite in that article. So would that be that well known incombustible metal in combination with those well known incombustible materials (typically various forms of resin) common in composites ?
    One thing that was very obvious watching the coverage on TV – there were large panels dropping off the building and clearly well alight as they fell. So assuming these were the cladding panels (can’t see what else they could be) – they weren’t even self extinguishing.
    IF (and yes, that is an IF since this is speculation) that proves to be the case, then this should have been an obvious risk – and those responsible should be up for manslaughter. I know that probably sounds harsh, especially as many of those involved won’t be engineers/materials scientists/fire experts and having to go on what various advice they are given, but someone approved this installation – and it killed a lot of people.
    It seems fairly obvious to me that for a building like this, there should be NOTHING combustible* on the outside of the building (and that has to raise questions about having plastic window frames). NOTHING. If fire can spread on the outside, then all response scenarios relying on people staying put and having a 1 hour fire door between them and the central core are worthless – as was shown to be the case here. And once you rule that out as a viable option, then you need multiple secured escape routes – not one single inadequate staircase.
    * Suitable definition required since even concrete is combustible given suitable conditions. But generally, concrete is non-combustible under the sort of conditions likely to be of consideration here.

  20. @Simon, June 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Largest indicator to me of something wrong with materials on exterior was the smoke – thick slow moving black smoke like burning tyres.

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