Friday, 16 June 2017

Grenfell Tower

This disaster comes in 2 parts, the first is the neglect of the Council, the bad workmanship of the internal upgraded, the second is the failure of building regulation to specify safe forms of cladding. The first part the responsibility falls primarily to the council, it is responsible for making sure that fire regulations and building laws are observed and it has a duty of care to it residents. Some of this may eventually trickle down to the government for cuts but the bulk stops at the council.
The second part, the cladding, which seems to have greatly magnified the initial event, responsibility falls squarely on government, and not just this government, every government back to the late 1980s when problems with cladding first became apparent.
Rightly or wrongly building regs have become the safety standards that people work too, projects that exceed building regs are looked on as being wasteful. This is a case of practice going beyond regulation and it has been a problem before. Events like the Summerland disaster, Manchester Airport disaster and many more are cases were regulation was needed and was known to be needed but the government could not be bothered because it had more important, in its humble opinion, things to do. This report from 2016 details the history some of the recent history: Fire Risks From External Cladding Panels – A Perspective From The UK.
The only real way to deal with this is an independent body which sets regulation as and when it sees fit, supervised by a court, where involved or learned parties can ask the court to order the body to either make or remove requirements based on learned testimony. I can see no way in which politicians can ever be the prime moves in this, boring safety regs do not score browny points, each politician plays to their own audience and its favourite subjects, they will always come first.
While it may be good to have a go at the current party in government this problem has been brewing for many parliaments, but parliament likes to keep things to itself and giving the power of secondary legislation to another organisation would hurt.
Oh, and as Jeremy Corbyn's bill to make rented properties fit for human habitation, would not have had any effect on this disaster, as there was no mechanism by which bad cladding could be deemed to make it unfit.
This kind of regulation is the boring, unsexy stuff which MPs cannot be bothered with until it is too late. So kindly all of the Politicos and their followers, get off your high horses this is a failure of you all to get down and actually handle the boring stuff and learn to cope with the world where things move on without needing your approval. You all failed left and right.

The dangers of external cladding fires in multi-storey buildings
External Fire Spread – The testing of building cladding systems

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