Learning From Disaster: Unravelling the Grenfell Tower Fire
September 15, 2023
In June of 2017, Grenfell Tower, a high-rise residential building in West London, caught fire. It began in an apartment kitchen and, within minutes, had climbed up the exterior of the building and spread to all four sides. Ultimately, it burned for 60 hours, becoming the deadliest structural fire in the United Kingdom since 1988.
Among the reasons for the deadly spread of the fire was the combustible cladding which had been installed during a renovation of the property in the years prior. This consisted of aluminum sheets bonded to a central plastic core. The highly combustible polyethylene ignited quickly, causing a rapid and uncontrollable spread of flames throughout the building.
This tragedy highlighted significant concerns about fire safety regulations and building standards, and potential construction defects. It prompted widespread discussions on the need for improved fire safety measures, stricter building codes, and accountability for those responsible.
Building Safety Act
To improve fire and structural safety in high-rise buildings, the UK government established the Building Safety Act, a comprehensive legislation that institutes a robust framework for building safety, creating clearer responsibilities for those involved in the construction and management of buildings.
The Act introduces a new building safety regulator to oversee and enforce higher standards of safety throughout a building’s lifecycle, from design to occupation. The Act also mandated the development of a digital building information database and tougher penalties for those found in breach of safety regulations. In respect of life safety risks, the Act introduced extended limitation periods of 30 years retrospectively and 15 years prospectively.
Additionally, the Act set out stricter regulations on building inspections and maintenance. Revised building regulations include a ban on the use of combustible materials in external walls of high-rise buildings. These are key components of the regulatory efforts to prevent similar incidents and ensure the safety of residents.
Rimkus Building Envelope Services
Fire protection and life safety are crucial considerations for maintaining a healthy building and protecting the public. Rimkus experts are uniquely qualified to provide thorough assessments and recommendations for building systems and components. Our comprehensive team of architects, engineers, construction experts, and other technical specialists can provide a single-source solution to building and regulatory compliance.
To ensure the successful management and operation of their property, clients need technical expertise they can trust. Our experienced team of engineers, architects, and technical consultants is ready to help.