Grenfell Tower

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Grenfell Tower
Grenfell Tower
Grenfell Tower after the fire, 2017
Basic data
Place: North Kensington , London
Construction time : 1972-1974
Opening: 1974
Renovation: February 2015 - July 2016
Status : Ruin after a major fire on June 14, 2017
Architectural style : Modern
Architect : Nigel Whitbread and Team (Establishment)
Architects : Studio E LLP (renovation and conversion measures)
Use / legal
Usage : Commercial and residential building
Apartments : 129 (as of June 2017)
Owner : Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Client : London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (LBKC)
Property management : Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KTMO)
Technical specifications
Height to the top: 67 or 70 m
Height to the roof: 67 or 70 m
Floors : 24
Construction: In-situ reinforced concrete, lightweight walls
Address: Lancaster West Estate , Grenfell Walk
Post Code: London W11 1TG

The Grenfell Tower in London is the fire ruin of a former 24-storey residential high-rise in the North Kensington district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in the west of the city. It's near Latimer Road underground station . In the night of June 13-14, 2017, the social housing property , which was completed in 1974 and modernized in 2015/16, burned out to a large extent. The fire spread through the newly insulated, rear-ventilated curtain wall within a few minutes. 72 people were killed.

Building history

In the post-war period , as in many parts of Europe, there was an increased need for affordable housing in the metropolitan areas of the United Kingdom. At the same time, there was a desire for contemporary equipment and a more modern environment. The residential areas built before the world wars of the 20th century from the time of industrialization were viewed as in deficit and were often considered slums . In the 1960s in particular, politicians wanted to be measured by the number of new residential units built per year. All over the British Isles, new modern residential areas were built up into the 1970s, 20% of which also included high-rise buildings.

Some of the residential complexes designed according to the model of modernism left a lot to be desired in terms of craftsmanship, aesthetics or, above all, socially and soon fell into disrepute as cheap and problematic. But instead of increasing the quality and thus keeping the facilities attractive for broad sections of the population, the focus was increasingly on cheap social housing and, as a contrast, the private home in the suburbs was elevated to the ideal.

A gas explosion in 1968 caused the Ronan Point skyscraper in the East London district of Newham , which was just two months ready to move in , to partially collapse like a house of cards . Four of the residents died. The reputation of modern high-rise apartment buildings was ruined. A commission of inquiry, including Alfred Pugsley , uncovered the many shortcomings that had contributed to the collapse.

In the course of the Lancaster Road West district redevelopment project , the large Lancaster West Estate, financed with public funds, was created . The construction of a high-rise, the only one by its architect Nigel Whitbread , was approved in 1970 and AE Symes was commissioned with the implementation. Following the lessons of Ronan Point, they designed an improved type of building made of reinforced concrete with external concrete columns and a building core made of in-situ concrete . From 1972 onwards, 120 two- and three-room apartments were built in phase 1 of the planned measures, with 6 units per floor. The building, baptized Grenfell Tower , was completed in 1974.

Property management

The Grenfell Tower before the facade renovation

The building, which lived around 600 people, was managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO) on behalf of the owner, the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council . The KCTMO is a non-profit enterprise with a majority of tenant representatives (eight tenant representatives, four representatives of the local government, three independent members) board of directors or "board". At the time of the fire, KCTMO was looking after 9,459 properties in its catchment area.

Renovation and facade renovation

Flat aluminum composite panel. Side view, 2.7 mm thick.

In 2012, with the help of the architects from Studio E, a renovation plan for the building was developed, which also included a tenant survey. The tenants' requests for double-glazed windows, thermal insulation of the facade and gas heating in the apartments were met. In addition, some vacant parts of the building were re-cut and partially rededicated as additional living space. The paths were also redesigned. To implement the measures, Rydon Ltd. instructed. The work took place from February 2015 to June 2016 at a cost of 10 million pounds sterling, which in June 2016 was about 13 million euros.

Windows made of hard PVC were used, the joints made weatherproof with elastic EPDM . For the thermal insulation, 150 mm thick rigid foam panels made of polyisocyanurates (PIR) of the Celotex RS5000 type, laminated on both sides with aluminum foil, were glued to the original concrete facade. PIR is thermally relatively stable, it begins to decompose above 400 ° C and it contains cyanuric acid .

Below the rows of windows, the planning provided for horizontal fire bars running around the building on each floor , as well as around the windows. The insulation and fire bar were clad in multiple colors with a curtain-type, rear-ventilated (25–50 mm) facade made of 3 mm thick aluminum composite panels of the Reynobond type from Arconic (previously Alcoa ). The work was carried out by Harley Facades at a price of 2.6 million pounds (3.38 million euros in June 2016).

The manufacturer describes the Reynobond composite panels as "consisting of two stove- enamelled aluminum sheets", "which are attached to a polyethylene core on both sides using a fusing process." Polyethylene has a melting point of 130 to 145 ° C. The layering of this inexpensive panel is comparable to Dibond panels and also achieves fire protection class B2 "normally flammable". It has so far been assumed that this version was installed on the high-rise. There are two other versions of the board with different core materials that achieve higher fire protection classes B-s1, d0 (“hardly inflammable”) and A2-s1, d0 (“non-combustible”) according to EN-13501.

Grenfell Action Group: Security Defect Warnings

Residents of the Lancaster West Estate organized themselves into the Grenfell Action Group in 2010 and have regularly contacted the non-profit property management team since 2012, when they were involved in the planning of the renovation of the Grenfell Tower, to draw attention to grievances. In 2013 they published parts of an expert opinion drawn up in the previous year which made significant violations of fire protection regulations public. Parts of the fire fighting equipment had not been serviced for three years. They documented their efforts in a blog. So they wrote in November 2016:

“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. We believe that the KCTMO are an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of looking after the every day management of large scale social housing estates and that their sordid collusion with the RBKC Council is a recipe for a future major disaster. "

"It's a terrifying thought, but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believes that only one catastrophic event will expose the inability and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO [Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization], and the dangerous living conditions and disregard of the." Will put an end to the health and safety regulations that it imposes on its tenants and tenants. We believe that the KCTMO is a vicious unprincipled mini-mafia that sees its job outside of the day-to-day responsibility of running large social housing estates, and that its wicked deal with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council is a recipe for a great future disaster. "

Stay-put rule and structural fire protection

Firefighting in high-rise buildings is based on the basic assumption that a normal apartment fire can be controlled by the fire brigade in an internal attack . Building legislation in the United Kingdom placed the main focus on building fire protection in high-rise apartment buildings on sealing off floors and residential units from one another. A fire should not be able to spread to other apartments, or at most after a longer period of time. Rescuing people should therefore not be necessary on a large scale, because residents are asked to stay in their temporarily safe apartments, so they are not directly affected by fire, heat or smoke.

A fire spread along the original, non-combustible concrete facade of the Grenfell Tower would have been expected due to the Coandă effect . The newly glued aluminum-laminated PIR insulation boards were also flame-retardant in and of themselves. Curtain-type aluminum-polyethylene composite panels, such as those installed as the outer weather protection layer on the Grenfell Tower, are classified as normally flammable. In the overall consideration of the possible interactions of all facade elements, they harbor a considerable potential risk.

In a fatal major fire in the London high- rise Lakanal House in 2009, high-pressure laminate composite panels (HPL) caused the fire to spread across several floors that were actually sealed off from one another. The lessons from this had spread in the professional world, but were not reflected in the building legislation and its implementation. Regardless of the risk, residential buildings with easily flammable facade cladding continued to be built or renovated over the years for reasons of cost, and they met all regulations.

The same applied to the Grenfell Tower, for which the stay-put rule remained as a behavioral requirement. In the course of the renovation and minor renovation work, fire-retardant T30 doors were installed as apartment entrance doors , which withstand fire for 30 minutes. There was still no sprinkler system .

The fire protection engineer Dr. In 2018, Lane wrote in her report for the judicial investigation into the disaster that the stay-put rule had failed when the fire spread through a window opening onto the new facade cladding half an hour after the fire broke out. The strict partitioning of the floors from one another as a central element of preventive fire protection was thus undone. The fire brigade was not aware of this fact. For too long, both the emergency call center and the emergency services arriving first assumed a routine deployment with effective fire protection. The residents were therefore advised too late to leave the high-rise.

Escape and emergency routes

There was a single staircase in the building. In the event of a fire, it had to serve both as an escape route for the residents and as a rescue, attack and supply route for the fire brigade. According to UK regulations, it was not designed as a safety stairwell because the stay-put rule did not allow the stairwell to be used as an escape route in the event of a fire. After the fatal fire in Lakanal House, the London fire brigade ordered the operator of Grenfell Tower to improve fire safety in the stairwell as well.

The generally usable elevator had a fire brigade switch, but it could not be activated.

Since the renovation, a smoke extraction system had been installed that could extract the air from the corridors in front of the apartments, outside the building core with the stairwell and elevators, on each floor. This would have kept both the other apartments and the stairwell as smoke-free as possible in the event of an apartment fire. However, this system was not designed for a fire on several floors. It was also reported defective eight days before the fire. Repairs and regular maintenance did not take place due to the unclear assumption of costs. If the smoke extraction system had worked as intended on the day of the fire, it could have drawn smoke from the burning apartments into the corridors if operated improperly, thus contributing to further smoke build-up in the escape routes.

There was no in-house alarm or loudspeaker system that the fire brigade could use to inform the residents or ask them to leave the house.

The Grenfell Action Group has repeatedly pointed out that escape and rescue routes are not being kept clear. As examples, they gave cars that had been parked several times in fire service driveways and also pointed out bulky waste that was tacitly tolerated by the property management in the entrance area of ​​the house. This was done not only under the aspect of unnecessary fire loads , but also with reference to the fact that the building only has one entrance and exit.

Major fire on June 14, 2017

Course of events

On June 14, 2017, a fire broke out in the building. A broken refrigerator in apartment 16 on the 4th floor set the kitchen on fire. The London Fire Brigade was alerted at 12:54 am local time ; six minutes later the first fire brigade units arrived at Grenfell Tower. According to the BBC research, they were able to extinguish the apartment fire that started from the refrigerator. However, the fire had already spread to the facade cladding through the window opening and developed into a major fire .

The facade cladding burned above the source of the fire on the eastern side of the building in the first half an hour, initially vertically up to the edge of the roof. Over the course of the next three hours, the fire spread horizontally across all four facades of the building in a V-shape. The windows were glued into the new facade, the connection points did not withstand the fire. In addition, many windows and doors were open due to the summer heat. Flames and smoke penetrated the apartments in many places at the same time. In the end, over 200 firefighters with 40 fire engines and 100 paramedics were on duty to fight the fire. The fire brigade was able to save 65 people from the house.

Inside the building, the fire burned in many places for more than 24 hours. Destroyed gas pipes made the extinguishing work more difficult. On June 15 at 1:14 a.m. local time, i.e. after a little over 24 hours, the fire was under control, according to the fire brigade. The fire brigade and police then began an initial search for missing persons across all floors, which was temporarily interrupted due to the risk of collapse and the fire nests still flaring up.

According to preliminary estimates by the police on June 20, 79 people died; at least 79 injured were treated in hospitals. An expert on the spot ruled out any danger of the building collapsing, which was initially feared. The fire brigade estimated that the recovery of the victims could take several weeks. In the morning hours after the fire, the situation around the tower was utterly chaotic, with survivors on their own and with the help of their own community and volunteers from across London who had rushed to catch the fire. For a long time it was unclear who survived and who did not.

Mission history

The "Grenfell Tower Inquiry" commissioned by the Prime Minister published a report by fire protection expert Dr. Lane connected with hearing records of employees of the London Fire Brigade (LFB), from which the following timeline can be derived.

At 12:55 a.m. on the morning of June 14, 2017, the LFB control center received the first emergency call. It was a reserve control center in Stratford . The fact that the premises of the actual control center in Merton were not available that night turned out to be a problem: In Stratford there was no monitor available on which the control center crew could view the images from the news agencies or a helicopter during the course of the mission .

The caller reported a burning refrigerator in his apartment number 16 on the 4th floor of Grenfell Tower.

The mission was opened, although the mission control software Vision 4DS did not immediately recognize that the property was a high-rise building. Accordingly, three fire engines were initially alerted as for a normal apartment fire. A control center employee corrected this manually in the following minutes, so that the number of four fire engines predefined for a high-rise building was deployed. The group leader (Watch Manager) on the first fire engine, G271 from the North Kensington Guard, was informed by radio of the increased forces.

At 00:57, the Tunstall Response company , which had the Grenfell Tower fire alarm system activated, transmitted an alarm to the control center.

At 12:59 a.m., the two fire trucks from the North Kensington Station arrived. The group leader took over the command. He had the water supply from a hydrant to the fire engine G271 and from there to the dry riser of the high-rise building. Fire fighters entered the building, set up a depot on the second floor and explored the situation.

At around 1:06 a.m., the fire emerged from the kitchen window and spread to the outside of the facade. At the same time, the water supply was ready, so that the first respiratory protection team could proceed to fire fighting in the interior. He broke the door to the fire apartment at 01:07 a.m. and began to search for the source of the fire with the help of a thermal imaging camera .

At 01:13 a.m., the head of operations had Make Pumps 6, Aerials x1, as a precaution, request reinforcements. In the UK fire service , the number of pumps deployed defines the number of pumps used ; H. Fire trucks, the extent of an operation. Management functions and command vehicles are added by the control center based on this number and the type of operation. Various special vehicles, such as aerials in this case , i.e. aerial rescue vehicles , can be expressly requested. After this alarm level increase, the operations management should have passed on to a better qualified train driver (station manager), but this was delayed.

At 1:14 a.m., the first attack team started fighting the fire in the kitchen.

At 1:15 a.m., two firefighters opened a pipe from the outside in order to control the flames emerging from the kitchen window by setting the bolt . Successful extinguishing could not be achieved for various reasons. The two firefighters then went inside the building as the fourth respiratory protection team.

At 1:16 a.m., the facade fire on the east side above the kitchen window extended to the 6th floor. The head of operations reported on the radio: "Apartment block, 20 storeys, 25 by 25 meters of floor space, five-room apartment on the 4th floor 7 percent in flames, high-rise approach implemented, [...] Oscar attack mode". Until 02:42 a.m., this remained the only situation report from the now rapidly escalating incident to the control center, the crew of which, due to the technically inadequate screen in Stratford, was not able to get an idea of ​​the extent by other means.

The "high-rise procedure" means that the fire brigade members gather on a secure depot floor below the fire and proceed from there to fight the fire. An internal attack in high-rise fires is personnel-intensive and a logistical challenge because it has to be carried out under respiratory protection and respiratory protection monitoring, can require tedious climbing stairs, and all equipment on the depot floor must be ready and constantly supplemented. The offensive approach in the interior attack is referred to by the London fire brigade as "Modus Oscar". The extinguishing water for the internal attack was taken from the riser on the 4th floor.

1:19 am: Make Pumps 8. The head of operations had the alarm level continuously raised in order to bring in more personnel and breathing apparatus, but also tools such as door opening sets for searching apartments.

1:21 am: The first attack force, supported by a second, reported the kitchen fire as having been extinguished. A third squad was active on the 5th and 6th floors for reconnaissance. The fourth attack force was sent in to put out a fire in apartment 26, directly above the original apartment. A resident of the 22nd floor called the emergency call center and reported a burning smell. She was the first to call from inside the building since the original 911 call. She was advised to stay in the apartment.

01:23 a.m.: At this point, the structural fire protection had failed and the stay-put rule had failed. Fire smoke had spread in the building. Individual residents up to the 10th floor had left their smoke-filled apartments on their own initiative. All residents should have been asked to leave the house immediately. The head of operations, who said he was overwhelmed, lacked important information and an overview of the situation to initiate such a change of strategy.

1:24 am: Make Pumps 10

1:28 am: Make Pumps 15, Make Aerials x2, people included .

1:29 am: Make Pumps 20, Make FRUs x2 . The Fire Rescue Units (FRU) are equipment and equipment trolleys that a. are loaded with long-term breathing apparatus and material for rescue from heights and depths. Their crews are trained for special tasks. The chief of operations had discovered that the situation had slipped away from him and hoped to be able to use the rescue team from outside to extinguish the fire. [sic]

A wave of emergency calls from the residents concerned had started, and the fire had eaten its way along the east facade vertical to the roof. Many residents asked for advice on how to get to safety or protect themselves from the smoke. Calls that could not be answered in Stratford due to the sheer volume of them soon ended up in other emergency call centers.

01:31 am: Make Pumps 25 . Around this time, the A213 turntable ladder from the Paddington station was the first aerial rescue vehicle to work its way to the east side of Grenfell Tower. Once in position, however, the water pressure was not sufficient to achieve any noteworthy success in combating the extensive facade fire. Because of the burning parts of the facade, the aerial ladder finally had to retreat and was replaced by a portable monitor that worked up to the 10th floor and successfully protected this area of ​​the facade.

1:36 a.m .: In addition to Stratford, North West Fire Control , responsible for the counties of Cumbria , Lancashire , Greater Manchester and Cheshire , took emergency calls as per contractual agreement. British Telecom placed unsolicited calls to the emergency services in the counties of Essex and Kent bordering London , and to the police in London and Surrey .

A station manager arrived at around 1:40 a.m., but did not take over the management of operations, but rather the rescue section and the comparison of the emergency calls with the control center. The CU8 command vehicle was in operation from 1:43 a.m. and brought together all reports about trapped people. It was only around 1:50 a.m. that the head of operations was replaced by another train driver (station manager), and soon thereafter by a group manager.

02:04 am: Make Pumps 40 . At this time the 14th respiratory protection team was advancing inside.

At 02:06 a.m., the major incident was declared . The management staff set up in the premises of the Stratford control center .

02:11 a.m .: The Deputy Assistant Commissioner E6 took over the operations management.

02:12 am: Make FRUs x6 , followed by 02:16 am: Make FRUs x10 and 02:32 am: Make Aerials x4.

At 02:42 am, the control center received the second situation report from the deployment site: "Full fire on all floors, 58 adults and 16 children affected."

At 02:47 am, the head of operations and the control center (which had previously been left in the dark about the true extent) decided based on this situation report to abandon the stay-put rule. From then on, all callers were asked not to wait in the apartments for rescue, but to bring themselves to safety. Of the 107 residents trapped in the building at that time, only 36 were able to leave it.

At 2:50 a.m., Dany Cotton, the Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Planning, arrived. With some effort, a structural engineer was found and urgently promoted to the site to assess the stability of the high-rise.

At 04:28 am, 20 fire engines from all over the city were alerted to relieve the exhausted forces.

From around 5:30 a.m., the emergency calls from the building itself subsided, only relatives and other people called. At 8:05 am, the last person was rescued from the building alive.

Development of the number of victims

According to official information, the fire claimed a total of 72 lives. Since the number of people in the building at the time of the fire was not previously known, police publications on the number of fatalities were based on the number of dead people found and those who died in the hospitals, and later also on the number of known missing persons. Together with initial delays in the search work due to the ongoing fire and security risks in the burned-out building, this initially led to relatively low published casualty figures. There was speculation among the population that much higher “true” numbers were deliberately withheld.

A BBC News web article described additional problems in naming the exact number of missing or victims: the entire building has already been searched, but a number of the victims have been burned beyond recognition. In addition, some data sources such as the tenant list, the information from the Casualty Bureau and the voter register are relatively robust, but they do not record children, foreigners, visitors or cases of illegal subletting, depending on the situation . (In the United Kingdom there is no obligation to report a change of residence comparable to that in Germany .) Video recordings and the fire emergency calls received were also evaluated, the surviving residents were asked which other residents they knew and who was in the building at the time of the fire. Ultimately, London police also asked day care centers, social workers, embassies and even fast food suppliers for useful information on the number and identity of residents.

The following figures have been announced by the police over time:

date number meaning
June 14, 2017 at least 6 Confirmed number of deaths; "This number is likely to increase".
June 14, 2017 at least 12 Confirmed death toll, "we believe this number will continue to increase".
15th June 2017 at least 17 Confirmed death toll, "is expected to continue to rise in the following days".
June 16, 2017 at least 30 Confirmed death toll, may continue to rise.
17th June 2017 at least 58 The police press release left room for interpretation; it was interpreted either as the number of people missing and likely to have died, or as an overall estimate including the 30 confirmed deaths. According to additional information from the BBC , up to 70 deaths were expected at this time.
19th June 2017 79 Estimated Total Number of Deaths; you don't expect a big increase anymore. Some media reported it as "up to 79" or "at least 79".
June 28, 2017 at least 80 The number of victims is based on the number of bodies found and an estimated number of residents in the 23 apartments, of which no survivors are known. There are also confirmed missing persons; because in 106 other apartments there was at least one survivor who could provide information about missing roommates.
5th July 2017 at least 80 / so far 87 remains found 21 fatalities were formally identified. There are still no known surviving residents of 23 of the 129 apartments. Since the allocation of the finds is still in progress, it cannot be concluded with certainty that 87 victims were found from the 87 remains. According to the police, anthropologists were also called in so that no human remains were overlooked during the search of the roughly 15.5 tons of rubble per floor.
19th July 2017 at least 80 So far, 39 dead have been formally identified. The search work is not expected to be completed until next year. The authorities are supported by experts who identified human remains after the September 11th terrorist attacks .
19th September 2017 possibly under 80 At this point, 60 of the estimated 80 fatalities were formally identified.

On June 19, a representative of the London police told New Scotland Yard that because of the intensity of the flames, it was very likely that some victims could never be identified. According to another statement made in late June, the identification work could continue until the end of the year or beyond.

Consequences of the major fire

Criticism was quickly raised against the authorities that the Grenfell Action Group's warnings had been ignored.

Immediate reactions

The accident occurred five days after an election to the British House of Commons . Prime Minister Theresa May has faced great criticism since the election. John McDonnell MP of the rival Labor Party called for mass protests against the ailing Prime Minister the day after the fire; within two weeks he wanted to mobilize a million demonstrators in London. The goal was new elections, in which Labor expected a victory.

A significant part of the help and support in North Kensington after the disaster came from within the community, which in turn caused great criticism against the state and local authorities.

In the days that followed, there were protests against the government, especially against May, as it was late in seeking contact with the victims, while opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn , London Mayor Sadiq Khan , Prince William and Queen Elizabeth II had already visited them were. Protesters broke into Kensington County Hall on Friday June 16. Police and rescue workers prevented access to the upper floors. Then the protests shifted to the scene of the fire. Protesters displayed banners and placards with slogans such as “Justice for Grenfell! We demand the truth ”,“ Throw out the Tories ! ”And“ Defy Tory rule ”. In the early evening, protesters shouted “May must go!” And “No justice, no peace” marched in central London through Whitehall towards Downing Street and then on to Broadcasting House on Oxford Street. May had previously visited victims in a local hospital in the morning and met with victims and relatives in a church in the vicinity of the burned-out high-rise in the late afternoon. May said five million pounds (5.7 million euros) in aid for the victims during the visit. She also assured the residents of Grenfell Tower that they would get new apartments near where they lived. The district authorities of Kensington and Chelsea also said in the evening that residents who had become homeless would be relocated within the district. Protests broke out during May's visit, so the police brought her to safety from angry demonstrators.

There was a minute's silence on June 17th at Trooping the Color , the annual military parade in honor of the Queen's birthday .

London Mayor Sadiq Khan brought up the demolition of outdated skyscrapers. This could be necessary for security reasons in high-rise buildings from the 1960s and 70s, wrote Khan in an article for the Sunday newspaper The Observer . In the reconstruction phase after the war, many high-rise buildings were built that no longer meet today's standards.

According to the British Department for Communities and Local Government , cladding made of aluminum-polyethylene composite panels does not comply with the Building Regulations Guidance . This material should not be used on buildings over 18 meters tall. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond stated on the basis of this information that this material was banned in the UK and that an investigation is now being carried out into whether there has been any breach of building regulations in the case of Grenfell Tower.

On June 21, 2017, British music producer Simon Cowell released a version of the Simon & Garfunkel song Bridge over Troubled Water . Over 50 artists were involved in the new recording, which appeared under the name Artists for Grenfell . The proceeds will benefit the victims of the fire through the aid organization The London Community Foundation . Cowell says he has already donated £ 100,000 for this purpose.

Effects on buildings in England

A week and a half after the Grenfell fire disaster, residents of five other high-rise buildings in north London were evacuated because of the risk of fire and placed in emergency shelters and hotels. The fire brigade had found significant safety deficiencies there: among other things, flammable facades, faults in the insulation of gas pipes and the lack of fire doors. In the five high-rise buildings of the Chalcots Estate in the Swiss Cottage district in Camden , around 800 households or 4,000 residents of the Burnham, Bray, Blashford, Taplow and Dorney Towers were affected. The facade cladding of the houses should be removed in the following weeks. The reason was "urgent work on fire safety," said the authorities on June 23, 2017. The decision was made after an inspection by the fire department. The firefighters said they could not guarantee the safety of residents. However, one of the five buildings, the Blashford Tower, was subsequently classified as safe; it was renovated from 2006 to 2009 by the same company as the Grenfell Tower.

The Grenfell fire disaster turned into a national scandal. After Theresa May's cabinet announced that it would be inspecting a total of 600 high-rise buildings across the country with facade constructions similar to those of the Grenfell Tower, fire safety deficiencies were found in the first 75 houses without exception. 60 high-rise buildings in 25 municipalities were classified as being at risk of fire after testing the facade cladding; Houses in the cities of Manchester , Portsmouth and Plymouth were affected .

Retrofitting London skyscrapers with better fire protection and sprinkler systems is expected to cost more than £ 400 million. All renovation efforts relate to aluminum-clad composite panels, the numerous facade cladding with high-pressure laminate panels or other combustible materials are unaffected.

The use of combustible components in new buildings and facade work on residential buildings with a height of over 18 meters was prohibited by law at the end of 2018.

Effects in other countries

On June 27, 2017, an eleven-story residential building in the Hilgershöhe residential area in the Barmen district of Wuppertal was evacuated by the fire brigade, police and public order office, and access to the building was also prohibited during the day. After the removal of combustible facade elements in the area of ​​the escape routes, the house was released again on July 26, 2017.

The fire brigade and administration of the city of Dortmund discovered severe fire protection deficiencies at the Hannibal residential complex in the Dorstfeld district , but these were not related to the facade. The building with its more than 750 residents and over 400 residential units was vacated on September 21, 2017 and will remain uninhabitable in 2020.

In France, a new law is supposed to prohibit flammable facade components in buildings that are more than 28 meters high. The facades must already be incombustible if the building is 50 meters or higher.

Dealing with what is happening

In planning the Grenfell Tower shrouded in June 2018 to that of Grenfell United designed lettering "Grenfell forever in our hearts" (dt. Grenfell - Forever in our hearts )

In the weeks after the disaster, the tradition of a monthly silent march developed every evening on the 14th of every month.

Six months after the fire, many in the community said they were still on their own.

Before the first anniversary of the major fire, the ruin was wrapped in full height in a scaffold that supports two layers of weatherproof tarpaulin . This means that it is hidden from view and any falling parts are caught.

On the first anniversary, the victims were remembered with several commemorative events. Shortly before that, there were open community charges of alleged media misrepresentation, particularly a lengthy report in the London Review of Books by Andrew O'Hagan.

Grenfell United , an advocacy group made up of the families of the victims and survivors, projected lettering on buildings in Salford , Newcastle and London to mark the second anniversary , indicating grievances in fire safety. In Salford they projected the message "2 years after Grenfell, 246 apartments in this building are still clad with dangerous insulation panels."

On the initiative of the Prime Minister, the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission was set up, made up of representatives from local residents, bereaved families and survivors. It is to decide on the further use of the site and a planned memorial.

Planned demolition

The property on which the Grenfell Tower stands is on July 15, 2019 in the unlimited property of the Krone, i. H. the United Kingdom Government. The ruin is looked after by the Ministry of Housing and Regional Administration. The boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea have no control over further use. The building is expected to be completely dismantled in 2022.Template: future / in 2 years

Processing and consequences

First considerations

According to official findings, the starting point was a Hotpoint FF175BP fridge -freezer, which Indesit produced between March 2006 and July 2009, caught fire on the fourth floor for unexplained reasons . The Hotpoint brand is also sold in German-speaking countries; the rights for Europe are held by Whirlpool Corporation . This source of fire can be regarded as a secure starting point, as it was dominated locally by the fire brigade units that arrived first. The flames spread through the window opening onto the building facade.

In the public discussion about the cause of the rapid spread of the fire across many floors, the facade cladding is the theme. In various media, based on the photo reports of the burning facades, it is assumed that the curtain-type, rear-ventilated facade made of aluminum composite panels promoted the fire of the aluminum-clad insulation panels behind it by including the thermal energy and contributing to the rapid spread of the fire through a chimney effect . Experts, including the head of the Frankfurt fire brigade , state that the combustible facade was a major cause of the disaster .

It is also believed that the fire produced toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, which contributed to the relatively high number of fatalities.

Administration of the Grenfell Tower

The chairman of the responsible local council and the head of the local property management KCTMO resigned on June 30, 2017 in London. British media had previously published documents according to which less flammable facade parts were initially intended for the renovation of the high-rise. In order to save money, the administration decided on a cheaper option. The local government removed control of the Lancaster West Settlement and all other social housing properties in the borough from the KCTMO in September 2017.

Criminal law processing

The first phase of the criminal investigation is at Scotland Yard, where a 250-strong special commission was formed. A particular focus is on the planning and implementation of the remedial measures that preceded the fire, although investigations into the direction of negligent homicide are not excluded.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry

On October 30, 2019, the report on the first part of the Grenfell judicial inquiry appeared. The chairman , retired judge Martin Moore-Bick, criticized the late evacuation by the London fire brigade.

The second part of the investigation began in January 2020 and should last 18 months. The investigation has been suspended in light of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK .

London Fire Brigade

London Fire Department chief Dany Cotton retired following the publication of the first Grenfell investigation report and repeated criticism. Her successor in office was her previous deputy Andy Roe, who, as operations manager at Grenfell Tower at 02:47 a.m., had given the order to revoke the stay-put rule.

The Grenfell Tower Investigation and Review Team for organizational development published a status report in October 2019:

  • Operations managers and executives are trained and their knowledge is certified, the control center has been reorganized and the crews are better trained in dealing with trapped callers. The internal availability of knowledge is improved and a fire review of particularly endangered objects is carried out.
  • Escape hoods were procured for rescuing people in smoke-filled rooms, drones for situation reconnaissance and detectors to monitor the stability of buildings.
  • The first march to every reported fire in a high-rise building was increased to five fire engines and one aerial rescue vehicle in 2017. If a fire is confirmed or a facade fire is reported, ten fire engines and an aerial rescue vehicle are dispatched.

As part of the regular fleet renewal, twelve turntable ladder vehicles with a working height of 32 meters and, for the first time, three with a height of 64 meters will be put into service in 2020 and 2021. Two of the 64-meter vehicles for 2.5 million pounds by the nonprofit Masonic Charitable Foundation of the London Freemasons - Grand Lodge Metropolitan Grand Lodge donated.

Similar incidents

  • Major fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell left six dead (2009). In the course of the investigation, the fourteen-story building was identified as one where an apartment fire could easily spread to the entire building. The facade cladding burned through within five minutes, the previous inadequate renovation, which was responsible for this, was not noticed during controls. Independently of this, the Southwarks borough council initially decided to demolish the building in 1999 , but the decision was reversed.

Fire accidents worldwide in which curtain walls with aluminum composite panels played a role:

Web links

Commons : Grenfell Tower  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Grenfell Tower Inquiry (in English)

Individual evidence

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Coordinates: 51 ° 30 ′ 50.5 "  N , 0 ° 12 ′ 56.7"  W.