Grenfell Tower tragedy leads to difficult questions

Never have I seen such a shocking spread of fire on a tower block as that which gripped Grenfell Tower in north Kensington.

grenfell tower

I have been involved in recladding and refurbishing tower blocks in Salford for many years, so to see the news and the extent of the rapid fire spread leads to some very difficult questions.

The Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a public enquiry and rightly so. We need to have honest and accurate answers to all the questions that immediately sprang to mind.

Was it the insulation? Was it the lack of compartmentation between the floors? I suspect that we will eventually learn there was more than one significant issue in this nightmare. The temperature increase and smoke spread was frightening.

Certified Insulation systems can have no height restrictions, nor fire compartmentation requirements. Both of these need to be considered during the inquiry along with a host of other requirements.

What about insulation? Materials? The Green Agenda? These are all cost-cutting provisions for tenants; reducing their energy bills. But we need to be certain they have their place in blocks and social housing generally.

As I write, I am saddened to learn 17 people have lost their lives. That figure is expected to rise, as fire chiefs do not expect to find any more survivors in the burnt-out Tower that was home to so many.

So what lessons can we learn?

Not every tower block will have a devastating outcome. We are reminded of what careful and considered approaches and rigor in fire safety inspections can deliver.

And the value an architect with the right level of knowledge can bring to ensure safety.