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Topic Title: West London Fire
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Created On: 14 June 2017 10:32 AM
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 14 June 2017 10:32 AM
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rslane

Posts: 148
Joined: 18 January 2003

Have just heard a report that this horrendous fire may have been caused by a faulty fridge. Oh my, I thought it was tumble dryers and non metal clad consumer units we had to be beware of.
The reports of fire alarm failure are also very worrying.
It rather looks as if the external cladding from the recent refurbishment caused the fire to spread so far and fast. Will be most interested to hear the official verdict.
My thoughts are with all who have suffered in this tragedy as I am sure are everyone else's. Terrible that despite all our regulations this has still occurred and been so very bad.
 14 June 2017 10:38 AM
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dustydazzler

Posts: 1176
Joined: 19 January 2016

nothing official yet , but I was just hearing one resident reported a fridge freezer 'blew up'
How many more of these old highrises are potential bonfires waiting to happen , so sad and so scary
 14 June 2017 11:00 AM
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daveparry1

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Looks more like a gas problem to me? Maybe no gas in there of course!
 14 June 2017 11:13 AM
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broadgage

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I doubt natural gas was involved, AFAIK gas is banned from most tower blocks after the accident at Ronan point decades ago.

What I find shocking is not the supposed cause of the fire, but the degree to which it spread.
Little can be done to stop fire breaking out in a flat, whether due to a defective appliance or other cause.
However the design of the structure is intended to stop the fire spreading beyond one flat.

So what went wrong ?
External fire spread due to flammable cladding ?
Internal spread due to fire stop doors being wedged open ?
Unwise storage of petrol, LPG, or solvent based trade materials ?
 14 June 2017 11:14 AM
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dustydazzler

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Police aren't ruling out serious foul play either
 14 June 2017 11:25 AM
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gel

Posts: 278
Joined: 13 February 2005

Wonder if it's that well known make (for wrong reasons) again, that are made in Turkey. Starts with B & ends in O.

-------------------------
Gel__Big Brother is here
 14 June 2017 12:39 PM
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Jaymack

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Originally posted by: broadgage
I doubt natural gas was involved, AFAIK gas is banned from most tower blocks after the accident at Ronan point decades ago.


An occupant said that there was a census offering gas some time ago, which was negative. The construction of the Ronan point tower block, led to one side falling like a pack of cards. A gas explosion in one flat blew out the wall/s and those flats above just collapsed.

The positive is that the inquiry will give recommendations: hopefully, one of which will be compulsory routine testing of fire alarms inside flats, and more frequent testing in stairwells. If a fridge was at fault, there has been recalls that I am personally aware of, with a fridge freezer of BEKO make. It should also be made compulsory for fridge makers, to make every effort to contact buyers/owners.

Regards
 14 June 2017 02:06 PM
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OMS

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Each flat is "Defend in Place" - you wouldn't expect there to be fire detection and alarm in common parts unless the design had significant dead leg corridors, restrictions on escape width etc that needed mitigation by AFD

I'm inclined to say that recent refurbs probably breached compartmentation and this was followed by design selection and installation failures on the rainscreen cladding

Interestingly companies I know were involved in the cladding are busy pulling down "case studies" from their websites

The choice of alu clad combustible insulation combined with clearly a total lack of both vertical and horizontal cavity barriers is going to have a few very twitchy designers and contractors - corporate manslaughter could be a very real outcome (with jail time)

A fridge on fire in a flat isn't the issue - although some reports of residents removing fire doors in favour of something that either looks nice or keeps others out may well be a significant contributory factor

I suspect the fatality list will keep climbing throughout the day unfortunately - the tragedy being this was all "known" and could have been avoided (easily)

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 14 June 2017 02:17 PM
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tomgunn

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Originally posted by: rslane

Have just heard a report that this horrendous fire may have been caused by a faulty fridge. Oh my, I thought it was tumble dryers and non metal clad consumer units we had to be beware of.

The reports of fire alarm failure are also very worrying.

It rather looks as if the external cladding from the recent refurbishment caused the fire to spread so far and fast. Will be most interested to hear the official verdict.

My thoughts are with all who have suffered in this tragedy as I am sure are everyone else's. Terrible that despite all our regulations this has still occurred and been so very bad.



I have seen a few documentary's about fridges causing fires... as the rear is made of plastic and it gets hot behind them - so nothing new.

-------------------------
Tom.... (The TERMINATOR).

handyTRADESMAN ... haha

Castle Builders
 14 June 2017 02:29 PM
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rslane

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There seems to have been great reliance on the fire and smoke integrity of the communal hallways and stairs. Tragically the cladding appears to have facilitated rapid spread of fire over the external surface of the building. But the question remains how did the smoke gain entry to the communal areas? Reports say new double glazing was fitted. If plastic frames were used will this have melted fast and the glass just fallen out. However with the intensity of the externaI fire I suspect the glass used in the flat's windows would have quickly melted or shattered. But was wired safety glass used for the hallway windows?

And what of the alarm "failure". One expert on the news was saying alarms for communal areas were discretionary. I assume on the basis of fire being contained within the flat where it originated so other occupants could stay put.

And as regards fire safety of appliances can too  high a price be ever put on it?  A specific grade for hazardous environments (like tower blocks) is a non starter.

You could say I am rather straying from the basic category of the IET "Wiring and regulations" forum. But I think this incident highlights the need for far greater level of inter-disciplinary thought with a greater questioning of assumptions.

Incidentally I have just read of STRAW balconies being shortlisted for a RIBA award. I was also amazed to see the internal timber construction of a hotel being built not many years back in Reading. While queuing on the flyover of the IDR I had a good view.  At least it was not 24 stories high. I also expect it passed  the inspections to say it met all the regulations. But then what of last night's fire?

Do we take a wide enough view?
 14 June 2017 02:30 PM
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Fm

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I'm inclined to say that recent refurbs probably breached compartmentation and this was followed by design selection and installation failures on the rainscreen cladding


Have to agree with OMS on this.

Very sad to hear the news this morning.
 14 June 2017 03:33 PM
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Zs

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So sad,

I think you can see where the staircases are in the building by the shape and colour of the flames.

I see riser cupboards with mesh floors up new buildings. I look at those and see chimneys. I see cable runs up buildings without fire stopping, I see adjustments to interiors which remove compartments in favour of wide open spaces. I see ceiling voids like corridors ( not to mention the cables supported on them) In fact, I've just checked my photo file and I see more than I thought. These issues are everywhere.

I hope that the high rise inspection reports out there with my name on them are going to be looked at more closely as a result of this.

I've never been a fan of Defend in Place and I have no doubt that this will raise its head in the discussions. However, there are usually fire alarms in the common areas.

The research from such an horrific fire will no doubt raise issues. How many fire extinguishers can be put into service if you are in your flat behind your two hour fire door?

One thing I must say here is that I've worked for Jobbo and for John Peckham on buildings like the one in the news. Both will let nothing slip through and you can be assured that their customers are fully aware of any fire stopping or similar issues. I'd like to see a requirement for a photograph of every riser cupboard and the interior of every DB in a block of flats introduced.

Zs
 14 June 2017 04:28 PM
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gel

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Good article here;
Good FT article on fire

-------------------------
Gel__Big Brother is here

Edited: 14 June 2017 at 04:37 PM by gel
 14 June 2017 05:22 PM
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peteTLM

Posts: 3715
Joined: 31 March 2005

I see the mud slinging has already began, with the council blaming the government for cuts.

Maybe London boroughs should spend what money they do have on stuff that matters, like safety. Every london borough spends millions and millions needlessly every year on taking up pavements and relaying them, and endlessly altering kerb positions and stupid 20 MPH restrictions. Boroughs that can't afford it should be spending money on granite sett pavements when concrete will do. Corruption doesn't even describe the methods local councils carry on.

How about a sprinkler system instead?

-------------------------
----------------------------------------
Lack of planning on your part doesn't make it an emergency on mine....

Every man has to know his limitations- Dirty Harry
 14 June 2017 06:35 PM
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leckie

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There was a report on the radio this afternoon with a witness saying they had spoke to an friend/occupant and they were told that the fire service where advising people who rang to stay put and they would get to them. The occupant has not been contacted since, assumed missing. Defend in place! Barmey I think.

Boxer George Groves was being interviewed this morning because he used to train locally. He mentioned the cladding first thing this morning wondering if it some way caused the spread of fire. It's amazing that an untrained person can see this may have been an issue and yet the designer cannot. If it proves to be the cladding that caused a breach to all floor those responsible should be locked up for manslaughter. And all similar properties should be evacuated immediately.

It really is an incredible shame, people throwing their babies from the windows, etc. A council cannot blame government cuts; a major refurbishment has taken place and now people are dead and families destroyed.
 14 June 2017 07:35 PM
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OMS

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Defend in place is a perfectly reasonable strategy for residential flats - we've been using it for years

It is however highly reliant on the designed in compartmentation being maintained (Lakanal House is an example of what happens if it isn't). Designers need to ensure they design it in - and installers need to ensure they aren't bashing bloody great holes in it during refits - which is an all too common problem.

I strongly suspect that the problem here was the cladding system and recent alterations to the podium levels and installation of new heating systems - quite possibly not joined up at design, installed badly and not inspected - not clear if it was a BCO or a private Building Inspector who signed it off - it's probably not true to say that the defend in place strategy was incorrect

Clearly there are also issues with the dry risers from media reports and also issues of getting near the place due to parking.

Basically, a fridge on fire in one flat should not have resulted in the inferno seen on TV - FRS were there in a matter of minutes - couple of extinguishers should have been all that was required - or a maximum of a single hose reel

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 14 June 2017 08:29 PM
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sparkingchip

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On this forum there have been long discussions about cables in escape routes with posters unable to determine what constitutes a escape route.

Whilst taking part in these discussions on this forum I read various documents including the report on the fire at Shirley Towers.

When I heard the first reports about the overnight fire on the radio alarm early this morning Radio 5 interviewed several eye witnesses who had to escape the building highlighted and that some of the problems that caused problems at Shirley Towers and were documented in the report were also present within the flats that burnt out overnight.

I lay in bed thinking what the eye witnesses were describing was straight out of the Shirley Towers report and lessons have not been learnt, I don't think it will be appropriate to go into specific points.

However one point will make is that in view of what happened overnight a few electricians and designers might reconsider their arguments about what constitutes a escape route then alter their working practices accordingly.

Andy B
 14 June 2017 09:41 PM
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ebee

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Joined: 02 December 2004

what an absolute tradegy

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Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 14 June 2017 10:00 PM
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leckie

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So the defend in place/sit and wait (while the high rise building you are in is a blazing inferno) is an established design. But it relies heavily on the design, installation, maintenance, and ongoing inspection.

So not much to go wrong then....

A radio report this morning said that the building had been inspected and assessed as safe recently, I can't remember who by.

Apparently the building has gas pipes through the common areas, presumably the risers, that are not protected from fire or heat. The missing protection has already been flagged as a requirement and apparently the relevant authorities have agreed that this work should be carried out but this has not been done. Not sure how factual this actually is but it was reported on R4.
 14 June 2017 10:08 PM
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John Peckham

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Just watching 10 o'clock news on BBC block is clearly on fire still on the upper floors.

What a tragic scene, and many lives lost.

The bravery of all of the emergency services who put their lives at risk to rescue people is commendable and humbling!

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
IET » Wiring and the regulations » West London Fire

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