Government departments were warned multiple times over fire safety risks in buildings similar to Grenfell Tower – but no action was taken.
On several different occasions, fire experts called for safety regulations to be reviewed – but government departments and councils failed to act.
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At least 30 people have now died in the Grenfell Tower fire and police sources warn that the number is expected to rise ‘significantly’.
Jeremy Corbyn put pressure on housing ministers by calling for those who had failed to act on calls for a safety review to face questioning.
Warnings over cladding
A fire safety expert warned Government advisors three years ago that cheap, flammable cladding used on the outside of buildings could lead to disaster.
Arnold Tarling of the Association of Specialist Fire Protection, said, ‘I said we will have this type of cladding fire in this country and it will lead to large numbers of deaths.
‘Any burning material falls down the gaps and the fire spreads up very rapidly – it acts as its own chimney.’
In 2014, housing minister Brandon Lewis opted not to force house building developers to fit sprinklers – saying that it might discourage house building.
Lewis said, ‘The cost of fitting a fire sprinkler system may affect house building – something we want to encourage.’
Experts have said that sprinklers could have been installed in the building for just £200,000 during the recent £10 million refurbishment.
Warnings after Shepherd Court fire
A London Fire Brigade investigation into a fire at Shepherd Court in West London in 2016 suggested that cladding had helped the fire to spread.
Panels on the outside of the building disintegrated and a report concluded that this, ‘is likely to have assisted the fire in spreading up the outside of the building
Fire chiefs wrote to London councils warning of the dangers in 2017.
Residents in Grenfell Tower had complained that their only escape route from the building was a single staircase – and reports from the scene suggest it became blocked.
Locals ttold Sky News that a recent gas installation left exposed pipes in the tower’s stairwell.
A witness said he saw blue flames shooting out.
Ronnie King of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Fire Safety & Rescue Group said, ‘The staircase should have been protected route for firefighters and people escaping but it was clear that it wasn’t.’