Grenfell Tower Residents Had Been Warning of Disaster Risk

Action Group blog said a catastrophe 'was inevitable and just a matter of time'

Picture: @Natalie_Oxford

The major fire at Grenfell Tower came after a series of complaints from a residents’ group about fire safety issues at the building over a period of several years. The Grenfell Action group had complained about a number of fire related issues including inadequate signage and restricted access for emergency vehicles to the building.

After the fire this Wednesday morning at the seventies block they updated their blog to say, ‘All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.’

At the time of writing six fatalities have been confirmed with the death toll expected to rise further in the coming days due to the severity of the injuries of some victims in hospital and the possibility that bodies will be found in the building.

In a post on the blog dated from November 2016 the Grenfell Acton Group said, “It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.

“In October 2015 a fire ripped through another KCTMO property, the 14 storey Adair Tower in North Kensington, causing mass panic and resulting in a number of residents taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. It is reported that had it not been for the swift actions of the London Fire Brigade the consequences of this fire and potential loss of life could have been much worse”,

‘KCTMO’ are Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation who manage social housing for the Council in Kensington and Chelsea.

In January 2013 the Grenfell Action Group raised concerns about the loss of the Lancaster Road car-park which they believed would seriously restrict access for emergency services as all vehicles had to enter through Grenfell Road which they said was narrow and regularly congested.

In March 2017 the group did succeed in getting improved fire safety advice notices installed at the building. However, these recommended that tenants stay in their flats and wait for the fire brigade in the event of a fire elsewhere in the building. In the event, given the speed at which the fire took hold, this advice may have been potentially fatal.

Kensington and Chelsea Councillor Judith Blakeman was quoted in the Evening Standard as saying that residents had been expressing concerns about fire safety in the block for several years and assurances had been given by KCTMO. She said that the fire brigade recently inspected the building and gave it the all clear. In response to the suggestion that the recently installed cladding on the building was a factor in the fire taking hold so quickly she said, She said, " if the cladding was partly responsible for the fire we need to know what the specification for the cladding was and why it suddenly just went up (in flames) in about five minutes, because it should have been fire resistant, surely."

The former chair of Grenfell Tower Residents Association was interviewed on the day of the fire by BBC Radio 5 live and said that he had given several warning to the management of the building and the council about fire risk and that he believed that the refurbishment work carried out on the building was incompetent. He claims to have been intimidated by contractors following his complaints. Concerns he raised included restricted access and the placing of water tanks over fuse boxes.

A fire in an 18-storey tower last year in Shepherd's Bush was found to be the result of a faulty tumble dryer.

We have contacted Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation for comment but have yet to receive a response.

The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.

June 14, 2017