Written by Désiré Roberts
The reports swirling around the Grenfell Tower fire following the recent document leak are ablaze with a lack of accountability and responsibility. According to the BBC and various other news sources, the cladding used on Grenfell Tower, now known colloquially as “Grenfell cladding,” that was responsible for the deadly fire, failed fire tests 13 years before the tragedy. It was no secret from the building industry that the ‘Grenfell cladding’ was not fit for purpose.
Knowing that the materials failed their fire tests and therefore deemed unsafe for use, this cladding was still approved for installation on hundreds of thousands of buildings across the UK, including many high-rise residential buildings. Without in-depth analysis of the documents themselves, opinions and comments from official bodies are just that — comments — and we cannot solely rely on them, since there is a disparity between whether the 2004 tests were designed to check the safety of the materials or to determine the criteria for testing. As for now, we cannot verify what the 2004 cladding tests were for and what they determined; all we know is that the cladding used was not fit for purpose and it was one of the factors involved with the spread of the fire up the tower.
Can we prevent another Grenfell Tower tragedy?
The Grenfell Tower fire took 72 lives, injured as many, and has displaced over 200 households, many of which are still living in hotels and temporary accommodation. It’s impossible to say that this will never happen again, but there are measures that can be put into place that can prevent it as much as possible. One of those measures is the golden thread of information, which will provide more transparency for residents and allow them to become more aware of the materials used in their building and learn more about fire safety and the key role they play in it. Another measure is through 3rd party accreditations, ensuring that work completed adheres to the current building safety guidance.
How can Onetrace help?
Not every company is ready to accommodate the new wave of changes in their industry, but with Onetrace, they are one step closer to being compliant with accreditation standards than ever before. We built this software to make the industry more efficient and effective, and provide a level of traceability that wasn’t previously required by law. Many companies have jumped on board following the surfacing results of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry and decided upon themselves that they needed a solution like Onetrace for their operatives and their clients, as it was a win-win both ways.
We will always continue to innovate our platform to ensure that your company’s team is working to existing accreditation standards, and keeping our ears closer to the ground, we will introduce features ahead of the curve, so that when the regulations change, it will already be in full swing at Onetrace.
The future burns bright
It’s deeply saddening that 72 lives were lost and hundreds of households were displaced because of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, but a positive light has now been shone on fire protection and building safety for the first time in a long time, and it will save millions of lives in the long run. In fifty years, we will look back on this in the same way that we now look at the idea of people smoking on a commercial flight… dumbfounded that we ever used to work like that but happy that the safety rules evolved, and they will continue to evolve as we are able to push modern technology to create better ways of working and safer materials that weren’t previously available.
Through these difficult life trials, we have been able to push past existing boundaries to create new materials and find better solutions. We are already seeing changes in the industry despite the chatter indicating that the Inquiry would last as long as the World Trade Centre Inquiry, which is a constructive start. We will continue to keep our news blog updated with the progress of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry as it unfolds.