Thursday, August 18, 2022

London - The Grenfell Tower

The next day we got up, had breakfast, checked out of the hotel and met with our driver for the long drive to Southampton to meet the ship and begin our cruise.

As we left the city, we passed by the Grenfell Tower.

The tower was the site of a disastrous fire in June 14, 2017, where 72 residents lost their lives in the worst residential fire in the United Kingdom since World War 2, and its been in the wrap ever since.

The fire was caused by a cascade of errors that all worked together to create an avoidable yet tragic outcome:

1.  The tower had known issues with power surges.  That would have been OK, but -

2. A fridge/freezer in a apartment unit then overheated and burned out creating a fire, likely due to the power surges. That would have been OK, but -

3.  That model of fridge/freezer did not have a metal backing (required in the US but not in the UK) that would have contained the fire. That would have been OK, but -

4.  The fire broke out of the fridge/freezer and lit the wall on fire and made it out the window frame. That would have been OK, but -

5. The outside of the building had been redone in cheap combustible aluminum cladding that created a chimney effect and allowed the fire the potential to quickly spread vertically and horizontally. That would have been OK, but -

6.  The refit had compromised the fireproofing between apartment units. That would have been OK, but -

7.  Inside the cladding was Polyisocyanurate foam that was not properly sealed off. Polyisocyanurate when exposed to open flame burns like gasoline, which it promptly did. That was not OK.

8.  In an unfortunate decision, firefighters lost their chance to contain the fire and failed to immediately douse the unit window that was on fire due to fears of a steam build up in the unit, which then allowed the fire to rapidly breakout of the unit and climb up and across the cladding.

9. Worse than that, the building lacked a central fire alarm so many residents were sleeping and unaware of the fire rapidly consuming the building.

10. Even worse than that, occupants were instructed to remain in their units and await rescue as is typical in the UK high-rises (under the flawed assumption there was fireproofing between the units, and there wasn't).  This is unlike the standard US instruction to people in buildings affected by fire to GTFO ASAP, and only if you're trapped wait for rescue.   Firefighters were unable to reach the victims.

Amazon has a good video on the Grenfell Fire as part of the show What Went Wrong - Countdown to Catastrophe a joint German-UK series that is free if you have Prime and worth watching.

So we passed by that memorial to a tragedy, and headed on to Southampton.


juvat said...

Lot of sucky things happening in that episode, Aaron. Thanks for the update, didn't know or don't remember (memory is not what it used to be) that fire. Looking forward to your cruise posts. As I mentioned, Mrs. J and I along with MBD, SIL and MG are flying next month to Barcelona and cruising to most of the same ports you visited. Your experience will help us plan a bit. Or at least give me the opportunity to inject a possible option in to Mrs. J's already well planned campaign. ;-)

Aaron said...

juvat: Excellent, I will do my best to provide many recommendations. Lots of great things to see in Barcelona.