Interesting

It is beyond obvious that atrocities such as this shouldn’t happen. We live in an age of building regulations and safety standards, of the testing and certifying of construction materials, of multiple specialist consultancies and subcontractors, of quality assurance and project managers, of health and safety allegedly gone mad, all in the name of eliminating risk. Yet the death toll of Grenfell Tower, if it is ever known, might make it the worst peacetime fire for very many decades, worse than the fires at Bradford City’s ground in 1985 and the Summerland leisure centre on the Isle of Man in 1973, beyond which you have to look back to the 1920s for anything comparable.

There are multiple factors. Part B of the building regulations states that “the external envelope of a building should not provide a medium for fire spread… The use of combustible materials in the cladding system and extensive cavities may present such a risk in tall buildings”. Any insulation product, it also says, “should be of limited combustibility”. Well, it combusted. The type of insulation, prohibited for use in comparable situations in Germany and the US, and similar to products that have caused serious fires in the UAE, China and Britain, is a prime suspect. It may also be that barriers that are supposed to stop the spread of flames up internal cavities were not properly installed.

Sprinklers would have saved lives. Fire stops that should have protected the internal means of escape may have been faulty or missing. The gas supply lines are under suspicion. The Grenfell Action Group had presciently warned of a lack of fire safety instructions. 999 operators fatally stuck to the official advice that people should stay in their homes, which makes sense when the building regulations are doing their job of containing fires within a single flat, but not when the whole building is engulfed. Compartmentalised thinking – the inability of any one agency to see the whole picture – played a role. It’s likely, as often in major disasters, that it was the cumulative and multiplying effect of several factors that made it so terrible.

So, layer upon layer of intrusive regulation and government made this happen.

The solution is more layers of intrusive government and regulation. That’ll work, won’t it?

73 comments on “Interesting

  1. Roman solution time: architects of bridges and acqueducts had to sleep under them for several months on completion to demonstrate their confidence in the soundness of the structure. I suggest architects, project managers, council members who sign off projects be housed in their structures as quality control.

  2. Forcing councillors to live in council housing estates is an excellent idea for so many reasons, including Ljh’s one.

  3. Tim Newman’s place has several interesting discussions on this theme.

    The bit I’ve not seen much on is the role of the TMO in commissioning this work: everyone blames the council, but the TMO runs the repairs service, so they would have had some hand in spec/pricing/etc…

  4. and the new Liebour M.P. was a member of the TMO. Did she agree with the use of the cladding? I think we should be told.

  5. “…a culture in which, despite the profits of house price inflation, there isn’t enough money to do a good job of running social housing.”

    It’s not money that was lacking in this £10 mil refit.

  6. “So, layer upon layer of intrusive regulation and government made this happen. The solution is more layers of intrusive government and regulation. That’ll work, won’t it?”

    I don’t know, but what do you suggest as an alternative? Fewer fire regulations? No fire regulations?

  7. And it will have been “made it happen”.
    There was a loft conversion we did a while back. We insulated the voids between the rafters with 100mm rockwool. Not satisfactory said building control. Latest regs call for polystyrene insulation board. Inflammable polystyrene insulation board.
    And the added insulation properties? Like most of these things, marginal. It’s putting in the insulation makes the difference. In practice, you’d never notice any improvement. But you’d certainly notice if you had a roof fire.

  8. The solution is greater personal/local responsibility plus sceptical of authority busy-bodiness. When you are given things without owning them and when you are reliant on authorities to do everything for you, you become unquestioning and dependent on remote others to be right.

    I live in a street rather than a block of flats, but if there’s ever a concern about anything affecting the street the local busy body experts come knocking, rallying support, complaining and writing letters etc. Living in a block of flats with systemic risks and with non ownership by the residents would seem a high inherent risk factor.

  9. @Spiro Ozer
    The specification for insulation material won’t have been a fire reg. It’ll be part of the regs that require standards for insulation. Essentially part of the “green initiative” & reducing carbon emissions. (Presumably carbonised occupants don’t figure)

  10. “I don’t know, but what do you suggest as an alternative? Fewer fire regulations? No fire regulations?”

    In what interest would a private landlord seek to be part of this mess?

    The old chestnut is insurance fraud. But that is ALWAYS suspected with private ownship.

    What sanctions would be put on a private landlord who had killed all those people for the insurance money? Life imprisonment and ruination.

    What will the Council pork face? Losing their job?

    As for regulations–well we have enough monkeys to fill a zoo never mind a cage. Between one lot of bunglers and another what good were they?

  11. For once, it is worth reading Richard North (EU Referendum) about this. He is his usual touchy self but it is an area where he has personal experience.

  12. The type of insulation, prohibited for use in comparable situations in Germany and the US

    This is pissing me off. Yes, Germany, the US, and Britain have different regulations for different things. Some are more sensible than others. Just because something is banned in Germany, it doesn’t necessarily mean the ban is sensible or desirable. The ban could just as easily be in place to protect a local industry than for genuine safety reasons.

  13. Sprinklers would have saved lives.

    How? This is also pissing me off. Sprinklers don’t put fires out, they cool surfaces to slow the spread of the fire giving people time to escape. This doesn’t work if:

    1) The whole fucking building is going up like a roman candle on the outside.
    2) People are staying put in their apartments instead of evacuating.

  14. BIS

    “We insulated the voids between the rafters with 100mm rockwool. Not satisfactory said building control. Latest regs call for polystyrene insulation board. Inflammable polystyrene insulation board”

    Bloody hell. Spain or the UK?

  15. The gas supply lines are under suspicion.

    By dickheads who think that by having them on view in the corridors rather than behind a quarter inch of plasterboard makes them more dangerous.

  16. I don’t know, but what do you suggest as an alternative? Fewer fire regulations? No fire regulations?

    Building owner has to demonstrate risks are kept As Low As Reasonable Practicable (ALARP) to the satisfaction of the UK HSE (and subsequent tribunals/courts). Emphasis is on the owner to demonstrate ALARP, rather than simply tick boxes against regulations. This is how the North Sea oil industry works, brought in after Piper Alpha.

  17. Have been looking into what the new M.P. Emma Dent Coad had previously been up to…
    From Wiki so may be wrong…
    “She was a council-appointed board member of Kensington and Chelsea TMO from 2008 to 31 October 2012.
    In 2013/4 she was a member of the council’s Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee.
    She has been a member of the Council’s Planning Applications Committee since May 2013, and a member of the main Planning Committee since June 2014.
    She is a member of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.”
    N.B. “Plans for renovation of the tower were publicised in 2012”

    Wow, if this was a private company this could be squeaky bum time.

  18. And it’s incremental & it’s the size of the increments that’s ridiculous.
    Simply cladding that tower block with non-inflammable panels with sealed voids would probably have reduced heat loss through the walls by better than 50%. It’s essentially a cavity wall. Rockwool insulation might have reduced it by another 20% (That’s 20% on the original heat loss. Not the structure with panels. The specified material probably upped that by 4 or 5%. But I’ll bet those promoting the change will be basing the advantages on the residuals. So it’ll be 25%.

  19. 999 operators fatally stuck to the official advice that people should stay in their homes.

    Head of London fire brigade on R4 just now said this is still the best advice to give on balance. Not sure how the operators could know what the building was like if it went up in about 15mins so how could they give any other advice?

  20. Sorry, MBE. Didn’t make it clear. My knowledge of building control requirements are UK. FK’s what they are here? if they have any. If they’re observed. Endless source of amusement.

    On the other hand, they have a lot of high rise. Not many of them go up like candles. None as far as I’m aware.

  21. As I posted in the Saturday Times on an article ridiculing the advice to ‘stay put’:

    We could provide no official advice on what to do in an emergency, and then be blamed for not providing it. We could provide a complex 3-page set of instructions to cover every possible eventuality, but no-one would read it. Or we could give a simple one sentence instruction and hope it will prove correct 75% of the time.

  22. The problem is to be found in the way buildings are procured now.
    Contractors offer Design and Build packages and get appointed directly to Clients without there being independent inspection.
    Projects are now run by ‘Contractor Consortiums’ rather than by independent professional Architects who have no commercial axe to grind and no incentive to cut corners.

    The problem is highlighted in the CDM 2015 Regulations which makes a Client appoint a Principal Designer who is ‘responsible for ensuring the health and safeyt aspects of all products and materials they choose’.

    The CDM Regulations however define no role for the Principal Designer during the Construction Phase and so, having carefully considered the ‘health and safety aspects of all products and materials’ there is no mechanism to ensure that the Principal Designer inspects and signs-off the works to ensure Contractor doesnt then go off and buy cheap alternatives.

    Without real-world independent inspection, like most ‘Regulations’, CDM 2015 is pointless paperwork exercise.

    Restore the independently appointed Architect and Clerk of Works roles and stop this nonsense of Contractors marking their own homework and signing off their own work.

  23. TN

    Sprinklers would have saved lives.

    How? This is also pissing me off. Sprinklers don’t put fires out, they cool surfaces to slow the spread of the fire giving people time to escape. This doesn’t work if:

    1) The whole fucking building is going up like a roman candle on the outside.

    2) People are staying put in their apartments instead of evacuating.

    I can’t find it now, but I did read one article where a young lady (with kids?) realised she couldn’t get out of her door, and immediately started flooding her flat.

    Kept calling, and the fire brigade got someone up to get her out? Guessing it must have been very early on?

    Presumably sprinklers “everywhere” might helped some trying to get out?

    And why stay put? If the fire is successfully contained in one place, what’s the reasoning against everyone else playing safe and temporarily getting out? If it is contained, the public parts are fine?

  24. Restore the independently appointed Architect and Clerk of Works roles and stop this nonsense of Contractors marking their own homework and signing off their own work.

    Blimey, I didn’t know they’d done away with the Clerk of Works role. No wonder there are issues.

  25. Presumably sprinklers “everywhere” might helped some trying to get out?

    They’d have helped, but not to the degree everyone is claiming. Most people think they are there to put out fires.

  26. “And why stay put? If the fire is successfully contained in one place, what’s the reasoning against everyone else playing safe and temporarily getting out? If it is contained, the public parts are fine?”

    Compartmentalisation is a two layer solution to fire risk. Firstly it contains the fire to a particular area. It doesn’t get out of an apartment. It stops it spreading into other areas. It doesn’t penetrate your apartment. By leaving your apartment, you’re removing one of the layers.

  27. PF said:
    “And why stay put? If the fire is successfully contained in one place, what’s the reasoning against everyone else playing safe and temporarily getting out? If it is contained, the public parts are fine?”

    People crushed trying to evacuate in a panic? Problems with smoke? Don’t know. But I suspect it’s the usual government belief that the public are incompetent and they have to manage everything for us.

  28. And you need to understand how dangerous fire exit routes can be. Stairwells have to be unobstructed, so occupants can exit the building safely. But unobstructed is also a free passage to smoke & flame. If a fire breaks through into a stairwell it acts like a chimney. A smoulder can instantly turn into an inferno when it gets a good supply of oxygen. Typically you get a fireball goes up the stairwell, would fry you instantly.

  29. TN

    Sure, I understand that.

    BiS

    I get compartmentalisation, but intuition says get out (could be a follow up gas explostion / anything?). And I can’t see how a safe and secure stairwell isn’t a prerequisite in any such build? Anyway, it’s not an area of expertise in any case.

    “Fire breaks into stairwell”, ok, interesting.

  30. PF –

    If 500 panicked people try to exit via one staircase all at once, and there is any blockage, you can get a crush and significant fatalities even in the absence of fire. Same holds for any highly populated high-rise.

    Indeed it’s quite possible that the next disaster will be when the occupants of a large tower block hear fire alarms for relatively innocuous reasons and all run for the exit instead of ‘staying put’.

  31. The tower blocks are themselves relics of another promised and failed socialist Utopia from the 60’s.

  32. As I hinted elsewhere, the culture of the inhabitants will play a role in the evacuation. Japanese, Koreans, and Finnish could reasonably be expected to evacuated in an orderly manner without trampling one another to death. Nigerians, not so much.

    I wonder how orderly an emergency evacuation from the Grenfell Tower would have been.

  33. “999 operators fatally stuck to the official advice that people should stay in their homes.”

    Quite why or how people in a remote location are meant to reverse the standard advice despite having no information about local conditions is sadly not explained by our intrepid expert here.

  34. Quite how people can look at that burning building and simultaneously believe that sprinklers would have worked is just bizarre. It was an inferno in 15 minutes.

  35. Another reason you don’t want hordes of people charging down the stairs, is that the fire and rescue service will be trying to charge up said stairs!

    Incidentally, nobody is saying “stay put in your room until the fire is out or you are burned to a cinder”. The idea is for there to be a phased evacuation, getting people out of their rooms when it is safe to do so and the route is clear, or with the firemen providing assistance with e.g. breathing apparatus if the route is dangerously smoke-filled – which you wouldn’t know until you were underway, hence better to wait for someone to come and get you. We know from phone calls to relatives that some people at Grenfell died after initially trying to run, then finding their passage blocked by smoke, then returning to their rooms – so their attempt to evacuate by themselves was not able to save them anyway.

    A post by a fireman on another forum:

    I probably sound like a jobsworth twat, but it’s really​ bugging me how reporters are questioning the “stay put” policy. It is clear that there was a breakdown in the evacuation procedure in Grenfell, but for me, stay put coupled with phased evacuation is the only way to deal with a highrise incident. By trying to discredit the policy, they’re going to make minor incidents in highrise very difficult for FRS around the country.

    There must be a huge temptation to run for it if you know the building is on fire. It surely takes a huge amount of faith in how fire-proof and well-compartmentalised the building is – and how quickly the emergency services will rescue you – to shut your door and stay put inside. What has happened at Grenfell is surely going to undermine people’s willingness to follow such counter-intuitive fire instructions. But then the flip side is we get incidents like Mum-to-be could have survived blaze if residents were told about fire doors, where someone who would have been quite safe in her room was killed by the smoke in the corridor she had run out into.

    Also @BIS cheers for the clarification.

  36. @Mr Ecks
    But it is that particularly British/socialist incarnation of the tower block, isn’t it?. Usually isolated in an area of what was grass or stained concrete & divorced from its surroundings. With a wind blowing around it, even on an otherwise still day will knock you over. The cheerless entrances & lifts like goods elevators. Individual Living Units stacked high.
    Although they probably used to look good on the architect’s proposals. With the little trees didn’t survive the first year. And the convenient benches with happy smiling families seated, never got installed.
    Essentially, the city I live in is mostly tower blocks. There’s little under 10 stories. Thoroughly pleasant place to live.

  37. We know from phone calls to relatives that some people at Grenfell died after initially trying to run, then finding their passage blocked by smoke, then returning to their rooms

    Further to that, it’s quite possible that some people who tried running for it died from the smoke, but of course we won’t know that yet. We know that some people found the smoke impassable and got back to their rooms, but quite likely not everyone made it back.

    It’s not even impossible that people died on the stairs or corridors who lived next to other people successfully evacuated when the fire services arrived with breathing equipment. The idea that 999 operators, however well-connected to the emergency services at the scene, were in a position to tell people, based on their position within the tower, whether they were better to make a run for it or stay indoors strikes me as utterly fanciful.

  38. Focus on the cladding. Leave the architects alone. The problem was the cladding, which was added later, after the architects were done.

  39. “when you are reliant on authorities to do everything for you, you become unquestioning and dependent on remote others to be right.”

    Exactly. High rise residents are chickens in a coop.

  40. Booker in yesterday’s Telegraph. Does anyone know whether he’s right?

    So far wholly missed has been the fact that making construction regulations, including those relating to fire risk, is an exclusive “competence” of the EU. Britain has no right to make its own, without Brussels permission.

    Furthermore in 2014 the Department of Energy and Climate Change issued its National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, setting out how it planned to meet its EU targets for reducing “carbon emissions” (and also those set under our own Climate Change Act).

    In particular, it emphasised the need to comply with EU directive 2012/27 on “energy efficiency”. This explained that the top priority was to improve the insulation of buildings, responsible for 40 per cent of all emissions. Local authorities were thus made aware of the section on renovating older buildings.

    When Kensington and Chelsea council chose the new cladding for Grenfell Tower it would, therefore, have known that top of the list was the need for “thermal efficiency”. On this score, plastics such as polyurethane, polyethaline or polyisocyarunate rated most highly, despite their fire risk. There was even financing available under the government’s Green Deal scheme.

  41. In his last three paragraphs, there, dearieme encapsulates the problem. Mandated energy saving takes precedence. So no-one will have been incentivised to look too closely at the fire risk of the materials.
    But I’d be willing to guess; if each one of those panels had the legend “Global warming is a load of codswallop” clearly visible on the exterior surface, whilst this in itself would breach no building regs whatsoever, exhaustive studies would have been made into the inflammability of the insulation.

  42. @Tim Newman: Interestingly the ‘Voice’ (London’s black newspaper) has been very critical of police using their riot shield on Grenfell Tower residents.

    They were trying to prevent them rushing in to the burning building.

    The vicious honkey oppressors.

  43. bloke in spain,

    But it is that particularly British/socialist incarnation of the tower block, isn’t it?. Usually isolated in an area of what was grass or stained concrete & divorced from its surroundings. With a wind blowing around it…

    That’s thanks to the influence of a pretentious French architect and urban planner who called himself Le Corbusier. He wanted to demolish central Paris (scale model shown here) and rebuild it to resemble those litter-strewn landscapes so familar to Brits. His influence on public housing was global: from Soviet concrete housing towers to American “projects”. Despite his work being endlessly criticised, he ploughed on, convinced he was in the right; and enough people believed his crazy ideas. Just like our favourite accountant.

  44. “In his last three paragraphs, there, dearieme encapsulates the problem” – it was Booker, not me. I’d just like to know whether he’s right.

    (Sometimes I think he’s about the only remaining reason to read the Sunday Telegraph.)

  45. @BIS. Back from Singapore and looked at the HDB housing for locals. Lots of flats. Standard building that isn’t that attractive if I am honest. Not much greenery. Not many car parking spaces but shops and restaurants at the bottom making it easy to pop out for something or eat out.

    Not nice but way way better than anything here, but it might be the fact that the locals don’t pee in corners or lifts, throw rubbish in the stairwells or spray paint walls, doors and windows. It only takes a few horrible people to make a nice place horrible and we have given horrible people free reign. Maybe it isn’t the building that is the issue but the people?

  46. “It only takes a few horrible people to make a nice place horrible and we have given horrible people free reign.”

    Steve Sailer has observed that (I paraphrase) the greatest burden of poverty is living among poor people.

  47. “…a culture in which, despite the profits of house price inflation, there isn’t enough money to do a good job of running social housing.”

    There’s insufficient competence. There’s a shitload of money (most HA’s clock 30% margin a year. An RSL w/6k properties will recieve 500k a week)

  48. dearieme: what Booker says is wrong as usual. As has been widely reported, including on this thread, German regulations do not permit the use of cladding of the type used on Grenfell Tower. So it can’t be the case that “making construction regulations, including those relating to fire risk, is an exclusive ‘competence’ of the EU.”

    The phrase “thermal efficiency” which Booker claims to quote does not appear in the Energy Efficiency Direction in relation to buildings.

    So, layer upon layer of intrusive regulation and government made this happen
    That’s rubbish too. Had the regulations been enforced, this wouldn’t have happened. Instead, the government has been indulging itself in “cutting red tape”, including in construction.

  49. “German regulations do not permit the use of cladding of the type used on Grenfell Tower. So it can’t be the case that “making construction regulations, including those relating to fire risk, is an exclusive ‘competence’ of the EU.”” That’s a non sequitur.

    “Had the regulations been enforced, this wouldn’t have happened.” Very possibly, but we won’t know until the facts are established.

  50. @SJW I’d have doubts, myself on how much harmonisation there is in the EU on construction standards. Just talking with the qualified electrician wanted to do work on this place, it was quite obvious we were on different pages of different books when it came to electrical requirements. His belonging in the Horror section in Fiction..
    But how ” government has been indulging itself in “cutting red tape”, including in construction.” beats me. If government had been cutting red tape, it’d have omitted the requirement for foam insulation in the first place. And looking through my copies of building regs, can’t see anything relevent in the latest ones was present in earlier.
    As for enforcement of regs, that’s the council building control. You submit plans of proposed work & materials to be used. They OK them. The they do on site inspections* to check you’re doing what they’ve approved, using what they’ve approved. Simple as that. Doesn’t matter if you’re a jobbing builder or a large contractor.

    *Not saying that’s necessarily worth much. A while ago i was the other side, consulting on the work of another builder. Building control officer was a remarkably fat woman apparently swung down out of a tree in Nigeria in the recent past. What expertise she was bringing to UK building practice, fuck knows. Interesting discussion on why 12mm plasterboard made in the 70s provides 1/2 hour firecheck but equivalent board made in the 2000’s doesn’t. Don’t think she understood a word of it.

  51. ” They do on site inspections* . . ” Sometimes. Maybe. Usually not though. I’ve phone them to come out and they usually don’t. “happy for you to take a few photos” They’ll say. And anyway the real issue here is liability. Warrant Competion Certificate is worth zero in terms of quality of workmanship. They’re not professionally ‘liable’ for . . . well anything really. Need to restore the system of independent inspection by Clerk Of Works and Architect with qualifications and Professional Indemnity and ‘something to lose’ if they miss something. The current system is Contractor’s signing off their own work with ‘everything to be gained’ by gettign away with stuff.

  52. @ SJW
    Your whole comment is a non-sequitur – which does *not* mean that it is wrong, just that it is not a logical conclusion.

  53. dearieme: you’ll have to explain to me how Germany and the UK having different standards is consistent with all standards being set by the EU.

    bis: Here‘s the governments red-tape website. And here‘s a site which discusses the building regulations on cladding.

    Evidently the requirement that “The external walls of the building shall resist the spread of fire over the walls…” was not met. But in an environment where regulatory interference is being discouraged, it would be difficult for a council building controller to insist that the design was unsafe, especially when the specific guidance on what’s compliant with the regulations was in advisory documents rather than in the regulations proper.

  54. ” it would be difficult for a council building controller to insist that the design was unsafe,”

    When the Council are the ones signing the cheques–albeit with our money?

    ” especially when the specific guidance on what’s compliant with the regulations was in advisory documents rather than in the regulations proper.”

    And thus even Bureaucracy can’t cope with the bureaucracy.

    That makes it all alright then.

  55. @SJW
    Weird language in that second document you linked to

    ” If flames become confined or restricted by entering cavities within the external cladding system, they will become elongated as they seek oxygen and fuel to support the combustion process.”

    Flames are sentient now? Who knew? Fire sprites?

    Who wrote this shite?

    It’s the expansion of gasses at the top of a cavity cause the draught. Low pressure region. Sealed cavities in any plane don’t encourage combustion. Once the fire’s consumed the available oxygen, it goes out.

  56. “Steve Sailer has observed that (I paraphrase) the greatest burden of poverty is living among poor people.”

    You insult the poor. I have known plenty of poor people, and they were good people.

    Projection? If you were poor, you’d be bad?

  57. You. have a very good point there, Mr Ecks. The council were at both ends of this disaster. But WTF? It’s only public money. Dole it out without a care what it’s spent on. As long as they can get the credit for how much is spent.

  58. Ref sprinklers.

    I was listening to that guy who does Watchdog on Today. He’s been campaigning for sprinklers in social housing for years, including houses. He didn’t State it but I got the strong impression that he, and others who claim sprinklers would have stopped the fire, want them in every room, including the kitchen where this one is said to have started.

    Presumably they know of an intelligent design that can detect chip pan fires and not set off the sprinklers but throw a fire blanket on instead.

    Given the number of times I set our smoke alarms off when making toast I think our biggest risk would be drowning if we had them installed on the kitchen.

  59. bis: written by two fire experts at BRE. I take your point that the phrasing is teleological, but the description of what happens seems ok. They go on to say “This may enable fire to spread rapidly, unseen, through the external cladding system, if appropriate fire barriers have not been provided”. I predict that the investigation will conclude that appropriate fire barriers were not provided at Grenfell Tower.

  60. “You insult the poor. I have known plenty of poor people, and they were good people.”

    Do you miss the point on purpose or are you genuinely thick?

  61. As I said early this morning, it is worth reading Richard North, he deals with chapter and verse on Booker’s comments and on the complex position regarding the rules and competences over the issues.

  62. @SJW
    Having now read the entire document, my opinion’s that they shouldn’t be using foam insulation in external cladding of tall buildings at all. Irrespective of which particular foam, they’re all combustible.
    Has to do with what happens when you get a fire on a high structure. The fire tends to “stick” to the face of the building. A fire’s hot gas. It’s at a lower pressure than ambient so the surrounding air pushes it against the wall. Effectively you get a chimney with three transparent sides. Witness a fire like that & it’s obvious how fast the draught is going. It roars. The gas streams probably travelling at several hundred miles an hour. And higher the velocity lower the pressure.
    Never mind about fire retardant foam materials charring to a protective coat. A draught like that will chew the charring off, fast as it can form. Rip panels off to expose fresh combustible surfaces. And the temperatures are very high. It is, after all, just a very big blow-torch.

  63. Mr Ecks,

    Minor point, but it’s not the council signing the cheques, it’s the TMO. They’re supposed to be at arms-length from the council. I hope the forthcoming investigation looks at how close these two seemingly independent bodies really were.

  64. “Do you miss the point on purpose or are you genuinely thick?”

    What then is the point of “the greatest burden of poverty is living among poor people?”

    Why would living among poor people be bad? What is it about poor people that you think is a problem?

  65. Think it depends which poor people, Gamecock. Some people are poor through no fault of their own. Other’s are poor because they’re assoles. Some places tend mainly towards the first. Places like London, there’s really not much excuse to be poor. So amongst London’s poor you get a high assole quotient.

  66. bis: it seems that the cladding consisted of a 150mm layer of Celotex RS5000 (PIR foam), a 50mm cavity, and a few millimetres of aluminium/polyethylene sandwich rainscreen.

    What stands out to me is that there shouldn’t have been a chimney effect, because fire barriers should have been installed in the cavity. If they were there, they didn’t work.

  67. As I said above, you get a chimney effect on tall buildings, irrespective of whether there are voids. Taller the building the more pronounced it gets, because the combustion gasses have more chance to build up velocity.

  68. dearieme: you’ll have to explain to me how Germany and the UK having different standards is consistent with all standards being set by the EU.

    It’s quite possible for EU standards regarding buildings and fire risk to allow for member states to approve or ban specific cladding materials as they see fit. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it’s quite possible.

  69. BiS,

    I’ve just read it. Could be that the Germans don’t ban it, but they simply don’t use it.

    I think people are about to find out how difficult it is to retrofit systems on old buildings and to predict how they will behave once installed.

  70. If living around poor people didn’t suck, you wouldn’t be able to buy a 3 bedroom house in East St Louis for $15K.

  71. I’ve read Richard North’s piece, and I’m unimpressed. He says “The cladding standard is not an official harmonised standard, so different Member States are free to apply their own standards.” Then there’s a “however…” which doesn’t make sense, but I followed one of the links in it, and it says “Fire Safety is the competence of Member States”.

    Then having demonstrated that EU members are free to adopt their own standards on cladding, he forgets what he just said and declares that “we are a passive law-taker”.

    The message seems to be he knows Booker was talking rubbish, but doesn’t want to say so explicitly.

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