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Observer II

Grenfell Fire -

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Seems the Grenfell Inquiry has (quite rightly imo) heavily criticised the "stay put" policy of the London Fire Brigade for the high death toll in this high rise fire.  Fingers are now being pointed at the Chief Fire Officer, who ultimately sanctioned the policy and thus should resign.  However,  there is a current trend by PC Local Authorities to tick boxes with such appointments, which  imo also  points the finger of blame at Politicians who made the appointment, on the basis of diversity rather than professional merit.    The policy of "stay put", originated from the theory, that compartmentalisation of such buildings would confine fire spread to a localised area, allowing fire fighters to tackle a relatively small fire.  However, there is a huge difference between theory and practise, with many reasons why compartmentalisation can fail, such as poor maintainance, human error, or as in this case, structural modifications such as the added cladding, which allowed a rapid spread of fire beyond the original compartment to the rest of the building.  There is no such thing as a perfectly safe building imo, where fire and smoke is concerned, and all such buildings should have had a practised evacuation plan. In no way, can there be any criticism of the fire fighters on the ground, who will have been torn between a natural instinct to evacuate and the policy of their employers of a "stay put" order.  No doubt other additional issues will be thrown up by the Inquiry, relating to the fire resistance of materials used and the way in which cladding by passed the integrity of fire compartments,  but the bottom line in any fire situation for members of the public, must be to exit the building as soon as possible.

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I wish I had your in depth knowledge of fire fighting and prevention Obs. 🙄🤣.

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It is true that the assumptions behind the stay put plan were incorrect because of the modifications but that is the tip of the iceberg in terms of causation. The resignation of the Chief Fire Officer would be a monstrous failure to understand the actual causes. There are, I am sure, many things that need fixing and only when they are understood can anyone say that the CFO should have acted differently. Without that understanding it is just scapegoating to protect the guilty and a repeat could happen again. I think there are some sacred cows at the heart of this appalling affair and they need finding out.

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If I was now living in a high rise apartment I would be more worried about how fast I can evacuate the building in an event of a fire rather then what it was covered with.

The stay put policy makes sense of the fire is small and contained, once it starts spreading surely you do not have to be a trained fire person to realize you need to evacuate.

I can not believe the tower was built with no secondary fire escape or non was added later.

 

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Lifts are not recommended as a means of escape from high rise, which leaves the enclosed staircase.  From the the highest floors, this could present problems for the elderly and infirm; which should cause concern about tenancy allocation.  But if the staircase is  enclosed by faulty or open fire doors,  it becomes a smoke filled chimney.  So evacuation needs to be immediate when the alarm is sounded.  Fixed installations in the form of dry risers, can allow the FB to immediately apply water to the heat source; whilst BA teams enter for rescues.  But these types of building require regular inspection and maintainance, and training events by the FB.

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Again I'm deeply impressed by your in depth knowledge of fire prevention measures and Fire Brigade procedures Obs 🙄😏.

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I didn't know that you had served in the Fire Brigade Obs. You don't have to be mad to be a fireman, but it helps 😉.

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Seems people in public life aren't allowed to apply common sense, as it may offend some group or other. JRM has been forced to apologise for stating the obvious, he could have added that the FB leadership lacked common sense too.

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6 hours ago, Observer II said:

Seems people in public life aren't allowed to apply common sense, as it may offend some group or other. JRM has been forced to apologise for stating the obvious, he could have added that the FB leadership lacked common sense too.

Its common sense with hindsight! If your being told to stay put, that it is safer  by people who are supposed to be experts, would you really ignore them? 

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On 11/6/2019 at 2:37 AM, Observer II said:

Depends on your own level of knowledge, experience and confidence I suppose - some of us don't regard "experts" with awe.

All experts or just these things you have knowledge about after the event?

Fact is there have been previous fires in the tower and there have always been a stay put policy.

What was probably needed was an orderly evacuation. We have seen what happens in other events when people rush to a limited exit, it results in crushes, blocked exits and death, is that better way?

I doubt many people can honestly say what they had done and at what point unless you were there

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The "stay put" policy was brought in on the basis of a theory - that a compartmentalised building will prevent fire spread, thus isolating outbreaks to a specific area,  allowing the FB to attack it.   The problem in practise was and is, that any defect that undermines that compartmentalisation, such as fire/smoke stop doors being left open or failing to self close, or as in this case, external cladding allowing fire to by pass compartments, will destroy the compartmentalisation theory and thus the "stay put" policy.   Therefore, the only safe policy is evacuation of any building in the event of a fire,  to a place of safety.  Common sense, which should have been applied by the Fire Authority imo.

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Obs, your description of compartments is clearly true. However for most events in the past as Milky points out it worked well enough. However the spread of fire via the cladding and its associated chimney was beyond what was expected and should not have been possible in a building that was compliant with Building Regulations. The effect of that non-compliance due to construction materials was far more significant than the ever present ill fitting doors and wedges. The Fire Service on the day did not and could not have known that the building was not compliant, although they had recently checked the fire doors according to the Grenfell Action Group. I fail to see what would have triggered the Common Sense you seek from the Fire Service given that their radios didn't work all the way up the tower and that people were phoning in to ask for advice from a call centre which was disconnected from the local commander's view of what must have been seen as an impossible event. You ask too much of the Fire Service, they should have been told about the issue with the cladding but anyone who had told them would have got locked up and that may yet happen; but the root cause is not the Fire Service, rather it is to be found elsewhere and will be by the next phase of the inquiry.

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I do not criticise for one moment the guys on the fire engines; but the senior management;  the FBU had been lobbying employers for some time (before this incident) for a review of stay put, as experience on similar high rise incidents warned of the risk.

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