CITY residents are raising serious questions over their safety in the aftermath of the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire. The tragedy, which claimed the lives of more than 70 people on Wednesday last week, has sparked national outrage, and an emergency government review of 4,000 tower blocks...
CITY residents are raising serious questions over their safety in the aftermath of the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire.
The tragedy, which claimed the lives of more than 70 people on Wednesday last week, has sparked national outrage, and an emergency government review of 4,000 tower blocks has been launched with fire safety regulations plunged into doubt.
In the days following the disaster, it came to light that Grenfell’s own fire safety procedures were long controversial, with Grenfell Action Group stating that their many warnings “fell on deaf ears” – they had predicted an inevitable catastrophe as far back as 2013.
Forums run by the Barbican and Golden Lane Residents’ Associations are now probing officials over local safety regulations, specifically in the estates’ 1970s tower blocks, which are home to hundreds of people and families.
One Barbican resident said:
“The system in the towers – which means that one set of flats has to use a little axe to break into another – is clearly not fit for purpose.
“My neighbours have to escape their flat, run the full length of the balcony, break into mine, find where I have the access to the fire exit and open that.
“In a panic I can’t see people being able to do this, sprinklers need to be fitted in the towers immediately.”
The use of cladding has also come under scrutiny after it was reported that Grenfell Tower’s recent £10million refurbishment installed a banned, flammable material suspected to be behind the rapid spread of the fire throughout the building.
Cripplegate councillors visited Great Arthur House in Golden Lane last Thursday to inspect the re-cladding material used in last year’s revamp and assured residents it was not of the “flammable variety”.
A Corporation spokesperson told City Matters: “We are doing everything we can to ensure residents are safe in their homes.
“Our residential estates are inspected regularly to ensure that any potential fire and other safety hazards are identified and removed, and our estate staff are fully trained on fire risk management.
“Naturally, residents in our blocks of flats will be concerned as to whether something like this could happen to them.
“We will continue to monitor progress with the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire to understand the cause and any implications this may have for us in relation to the safety and integrity of our own homes.”
Donations are pouring in to the Grenfell relief fund, with more than £5m already pledged as residents await relocation.
That task has been passed on to Corporation chief executive John Barradell, who is leading the incident’s response team, after Kensington & Chelsea Council came in for scathing criticism for its widely lambasted response to the tragedy.
It is feared the death toll could rise into the hundreds, and Metropolitan Police chiefs have warned it may take weeks to recover all victims from the building.
Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said:
“It is very hard to find the words to express how those families affected must be feeling, and it is our job to work tirelessly to provide them with the answers they so richly deserve.”
While police have confirmed the fire was not started deliberately, a criminal investigation is underway.