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Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by bernicarey » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:31 am

WB
I found that quite an emotional read. A great pity such items are consigned to the weekend 'social press' and don't get greater publicity.
“I was aware we were dispatching 40 fire engines, which is one of those things we do once in a blue moon. I’ve done it once before – for the day of the Olympic closing ceremony when a large-scale refuse fire very near a chemical hazards site, only seven miles from the Olympic park, threatened to disrupt the ceremony. Prior to that, the last 40-pump fire was about 1972.”
It's testament to the skilled management of the incident and quality of the individuals involved that they abandoned many of their usual safety protocols; yet somehow managed not to have any firefighters seriously injured or killed. .salut
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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by Messy » Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:54 pm

Waterbaby wrote:
Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:55 am
../.


In extreme situations such as Grenfell Tower, the local authority will dispatch a structural surveyor. But in the early hours of the morning one was not immediately available
WB
Yet another question to be answered. Where was RBKC's surveyor??

As I have said here before, this was my old area when I was in the fire service. I knew Grenfell fairly well, and of course I unwittingly went past on my way to work 4.5hrs later. Even from the luxury of my coach it was shocking. It was unbelievably bad. It was impossible.

I have had lots of conversation from those who were there and especially those who were there early on. I cannot and will not detail those stories here, but the hell of knowing people are dying - being burnt to death - and its impossible to reach them is hard to imagine. 99% of fatal fires involved casualties that are dead before the fire engine is even called. Not this one.

A really good friend of mine is suffering. They were involved in a desperate rescue of a guy who was reluctant to be led through the smoke. A mini fight broke out and my friend is traumatised by the time they took 'persuading' this person down several floors and over a dead fallen body. There is a feeling they could have done more if they'd been quicker and not delayed by this traumatised person

My friend also relates that rubbish chute rooms were relatively unscathed when all around was black. If only they'd known, perhaps advice could have been given to those trapped? To be fair, probably not - but that is not how you mind works after an event like that

Dany Cotton was already popular with the troops. The previous incumbent of her role was seen to be impotent to change forced upon him by budget cuts, therefore unfairly, he was considered a 'traitor' as he (like Cotton) had made his way through the ranks. Dany Cotton had already talked about undoing some of the changes - well at least those which would cost money. She was already hailed as a 'firefighters firefighter"

The decision to use offensive tactics was indeed a brave one in 2017. The default setting now is defensive - i.e. stand outside and pour water on it - if there's a high risk. To be honest, she would have had a riot on her hands if she'd try to stop crews going in, as they would have ignored her. So she made the right decision to support that ideology of 'if there's saveable life, save it'. Many of her predecessors have lost that courage - almost as if it's been bred out of them by years of often pathetic decisions based on a 'if I don't make a decision, I won't make a mistake' approach.

Dany will be soon hanging a gong next to the others she has. I am sure she will be the first to say she accepted it on behalf of those who are there. clapclap

I am very proud to have been part of the LFB for 32 years, albeit rather envious I wasn't there on the night

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by EagleBeagle » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:34 am

Messy wrote:
Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:54 pm
Waterbaby wrote:
Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:55 am
../.


In extreme situations such as Grenfell Tower, the local authority will dispatch a structural surveyor. But in the early hours of the morning one was not immediately available
WB
Yet another question to be answered. Where was RBKC's surveyor??

As I have said here before, this was my old area when I was in the fire service. I knew Grenfell fairly well, and of course I unwittingly went past on my way to work 4.5hrs later. Even from the luxury of my coach it was shocking. It was unbelievably bad. It was impossible.

I have had lots of conversation from those who were there and especially those who were there early on. I cannot and will not detail those stories here, but the hell of knowing people are dying - being burnt to death - and its impossible to reach them is hard to imagine. 99% of fatal fires involved casualties that are dead before the fire engine is even called. Not this one.

A really good friend of mine is suffering. They were involved in a desperate rescue of a guy who was reluctant to be led through the smoke. A mini fight broke out and my friend is traumatised by the time they took 'persuading' this person down several floors and over a dead fallen body. There is a feeling they could have done more if they'd been quicker and not delayed by this traumatised person

My friend also relates that rubbish chute rooms were relatively unscathed when all around was black. If only they'd known, perhaps advice could have been given to those trapped? To be fair, probably not - but that is not how you mind works after an event like that

Dany Cotton was already popular with the troops. The previous incumbent of her role was seen to be impotent to change forced upon him by budget cuts, therefore unfairly, he was considered a 'traitor' as he (like Cotton) had made his way through the ranks. Dany Cotton had already talked about undoing some of the changes - well at least those which would cost money. She was already hailed as a 'firefighters firefighter"

The decision to use offensive tactics was indeed a brave one in 2017. The default setting now is defensive - i.e. stand outside and pour water on it - if there's a high risk. To be honest, she would have had a riot on her hands if she'd try to stop crews going in, as they would have ignored her. So she made the right decision to support that ideology of 'if there's saveable life, save it'. Many of her predecessors have lost that courage - almost as if it's been bred out of them by years of often pathetic decisions based on a 'if I don't make a decision, I won't make a mistake' approach.

Dany will be soon hanging a gong next to the others she has. I am sure she will be the first to say she accepted it on behalf of those who are there. clapclap

I am very proud to have been part of the LFB for 32 years, albeit rather envious I wasn't there on the night
The work you guys do is just incredible.

I happened to bump into a recent FBU campaign on Twitter which was about how difficult it is for crews to have to wait for a second appliance when the best option is to go in at the earlier stages of the fire. It was launched prior to Grenfell but it becomes all the more pressing when you see the struggle that individual firefighters put in there. For instance, Damian Magee from Whitechapel Station has been immortalised by the Sky News interview which was harrowing as you could feel his pain. I do a lot of voluntary first aid event work with the likes of St. John's and there's nothing worse than that feeling when you can't help someone.

Unfortunately, safe working practice officially prevents this quite correctly but how more and more firefighters have to make a dynamic decision (there's a deployment term for it, can't remember it) to enter without cover of another appliance. It's basically like the highest risk level of confined space entry without a stand-by rescue team except the potential price of not entering is human life rather than delayed maintenance.

The campaign video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NBiXjbdbxg

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by witsd » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:10 am

I'm reading the FRA now, and I'm quite surprised by the risk indicator values. Anyone else have any thoughts about rating a high-rise building as only risking 'slight harm' as a consequence of fire?
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by bernicarey » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:04 pm

BBC are claiming problems with water pressure amongst other issues.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40535417?n ... sh_regions

I'm reminded of my RAF Service, where in the UK, the hydrants along the hangar line of the airfield are higher pressure than the ones on the rest of the camp. Occasionally some workman/builder type would go and try and use on for some gash hosepipe and get the shock of his life :shock:
I assume that's still the case.
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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by Messy » Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:17 am

I think the BBC are right to highlight the delay in sending an aerial appliance in their Newsnight program, and maybe the radio problems. But water problems will always be an issue on a job like this.

Aerials (high reach appliances) used to attend automatically right across central London - including the Lancaster West Estate where Grenfell is located. Then bean counter at HQ dusted off his abacus & did some maths. He made some pretty graphs and established that these expensive machines were rarely used to rescue anyone or even put fires out.

What wasn't considered was we used to use routinely them for gaining entry into buildings, for observation towers (where no fire was showing, the 100ft ladder would give a birds eye view) and would often extend them against buildings to act as an emergency escape ladder for breathing apparatus crews working a fire inside.

But these big machines 'not doing much' was seen as 'inefficient use of resources' by promotion hungry managers trying to make a name for themselves. So they were removed from most 'predetermined attendances' and were only available upon request. There was a culture of not dragging one out to act as an observation tower or any of the routine jobs - mainly due to the time delay. So their call rate fell through the floor. The results were devastating. 40 years ago when I stared, in the nine stations that covered the busy west end of London, there was an aerial at 6 of them: Paddington, Manchester Sq, Euston, Soho, Chelsea and Kensington. Now there's only two (Paddington & Soho).

LFB bosses said that advances in technology and building design meant aerials were less important. Its true, that Canary Wharf and similar new builds will not benefit greatly from aerials, but the million of Londoners and visitors in the thousands of single staircase buildings (including huge mansion blocks of flats, over height older flats over shops and 5 storey single staircase hotels) were most certainly placed at risk by these cuts.

Then think about very large single storey warehouses. Aerial appliances rarely attend as routine in London. The same bean counters would never agree. These buildings often one huge compartment. Fires can spread easily and steel portal frames tend to collapse rapidly. Its not a good place to commit crews. But early intervention using an aerial to break a hole in the roof to let smoke and hot fumes escape can save £millions of loss and countless livelihoods. I am sure London will be awash with huge Bronto Skylifts soon as a knee jerk reaction. They will be able to reach the moon, but will weigh 70 tonnes and be housed on 5 to 8 axles so won't actually be able to get anywhere other than main roads.

As for the lack of water, it is the case that residential areas will have relatively small diameter water mains. They are only needed to fill baths and washing machines on an average day. You cannot expect that main to supply perhaps 4 to 6 fire service jets without falling over. I work in central London in a very built up city centre area and we have a 12" main with double hydrants outside. Even that would struggle. Without installing huge mains everywhere 'just in case', there's not much that could be done.

As for radio problems. I hope the Public Inquiry will look at this. Notwithstanding that there were probably up to 400 firefighters present at times so its likely that radio airtime would be busy. But when technology allows me to send realtime video & speech from my mobile phone in London to a beach in Sydney, it is about time 999 services could talk to each other better within a sq mile of London .scratch

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by Messy » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:42 pm

Latest News

Testing

The Government appointed Panel of Experts on Fire Safety Testing have at least begun to calm the panic by introducing new large scale testing of a range of popular cladding systems.

The interim tests using tiny 25cm x 25cm samples under ISO 1716:2010, tested the flammability of the core insulation of material and nearly all materials have 'failed' this test.

The panel have pretty much discounted BS476 part 7(I think) tests as they test surface flames spread and not combustibility of the core itself

The new large scale testing was announced on 6/7/17 will take place on full panels of cladding systems (coverings, fixings, and insulation) will be conducted at BRE using BS 8414 parts 1 and 2 (come on, are you keeping up?)

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/expe ... insulation

The whole plethora of EU, BS and other standards for material fire safety testing is far more complex than the mess I thought it was, so I am pleased this Govt Panel of experts are getting a grip on this.

Some may ask why this panel - or other experts - hadn't rationalised this area before 14th June 2017? - but I of course, cannot comment

Standard 'One Size Fits All' Test Approach Questioned But Ignored

Lastly, I have an issue where three buildings I look after are >18m tall and have sleeping accommodation. This means bits of cladding need to be tested. All three were built in a similar style with ACM cladding present as a 3m 'cap' at the top of the building around the plant rooms at roof level at 20m height - and above the sleeping accommodation.

As far as I can see, as the cladding is only on a fraction of the building and above the sleeping risk, this sure is a much lower risk than if all 20m were clad? I really see no value in testing sample in these circumstances and have tried to approach DCLG. S o far they have been unable answer my question

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by martin1804 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:47 am

Messy, right with you. The programme of testing cladding on buildings is happening at every NHS hospital in the UK at the moment, and any requiring it have 250 mm x 250 mm sections removed and sent to BRE for testing. This is for low level (<4m ) and also for high level (>12m ) even if it is the same cladding on the surface of the same building. Looking at:

1. type of cladding panel
2. thickness of cladding panel
3. type of insulation
4. thickness of insulation
5. how insulation is fixed to structure
6. dimension of air gap (if present)
7. construction of cavity closers (if present).

All require documentary and photographic recorded observations.

We have also had to add to our fire risk assessments the questions regarding cladding - and we will used the findings of the BRE tests to indicate how we can risk rate realistically.

Still in the knee jerk mode. Needless to say we have nothing in the Trust where I work, which is remotely like Grenfell. Still have to test though. I understand that there is a risk but what the NHS is being required to do is a bit political over common sense when you are looking at buildings which are not remotely similar to Grenfell but are cladded. The risk re such buildings which are a few storeys high, with multiple protected stairwells, is totally different to what happened at Grenfell.

I reckon the next thing will be compartmentation. That will be fun.

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by Messy » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:41 pm

You are right about the politics

I am 100s of miles from home looking at a publically owned building which apparentky fits the need for action. (18m+)

The cladding is just the top 2.5 m of the 30m building and well above sleeping risks. Plus getting the sample is impossible without a hydraulic platform working from and closing a main street. Thats gunna take weeks to arrange but the customer wants it done by the end of the week.

Panic & Butt covering and nothing to do with controlling risk Grrrrrr 😡

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by hammer1 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:47 pm

Messy wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:41 pm
You are right about the politics

I am 100s of miles from home looking at a publically owned building which apparentky fits the need for action. (18m+)

The cladding is just the top 2.5 m of the 30m building and well above sleeping risks. Plus getting the sample is impossible without a hydraulic platform working from and closing a main street. Thats gunna take weeks to arrange but the customer wants it done by the end of the week.

Panic & Butt covering and nothing to do with controlling risk Grrrrrr 😡
Brent Council decision to release funds for retrospective sprinkler/AFD systems fitting across their high rise buildings (all of which have no cladding with the materials currently being investigated) will not help matters.
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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by witsd » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:05 am

hammer1 wrote:
Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:47 pm
Brent Council decision to release funds for retrospective sprinkler/AFD systems fitting across their high rise buildings (all of which have no cladding with the materials currently being investigated) will not help matters.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said: “Grenfell changed everything. When it comes to fire safety, ‘good enough’ is no longer good enough.
Butts being covered indeed.
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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Re: Huge fire at Grenfell Tower block

Post by Messy » Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:59 pm

This what every tower block needs - a fire safety officer as a resident :roll:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-40507260

I don't want to be critical of this guy as he has done a good job waking up his landlords to the risks they've ignored. But some might ask that as a fire safety officer, how come he didn't see some of the problems prior to Grenfell??

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