‘Stay Put’ policy still not changed

‘Stay Put’ policy still not changed

10:39 AM, 30th October 2019, About 4 years ago 7

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Grenfell Tower Phase 1 report response by Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union:

“The Inquiry’s interim report must finally be a turning point for fire safety in the UK. Warning after warning from previous fires were ignored; central government must now take responsibility for ensuring that recommendations are applied nationwide, not just in London; this has never simply been a matter for the London Fire Brigade. That change can only be achieved by establishing a new, credible and accountable body responsible for fire and rescue service policy in the UK.

“Firefighters stand in solidarity with the bereaved, survivors and residents and share their grief for the lives lost that night. They have an absolute right to ask difficult questions. However, we have said from the start that the order of issues to be investigated has been entirely wrong. The Inquiry’s structure prioritises scrutiny of firefighters, who did everything that they could to save lives, over investigating the critical issues of public safety that led to the fire and caused it to spread in such a disastrous manner.

“Before any firefighter arrived that night, Grenfell Tower was a death trap. Firefighters that night acted bravely in impossible circumstances, many of them repeatedly risking their own lives to save others. We welcome that this is reflected in the Inquiry’s report.

“Firefighters and control room staff are, as with any profession, only able to operate within their training and procedures. It is clear that no one had planned or prepared for an incident like Grenfell. The planning by fire service policy makers did not take account of a fire where compartmentation failed on such a scale.

“It’s disgraceful that over two years since the fire and there has been no major review or assessment of the Stay Put policy. This could have been done within months of the fire and we have raised this with government ministers on numerous occasions. Concerns about stay put policy were raised with central government years before Grenfell, the government must stop dragging its heels and recognise the urgent need to act.

“There was no other evacuation policy available to firefighters on the night, the report rightly recognises this. Those on the ground believed that a whole-scale evacuation would have been unsafe, potentially causing further fatalities.

“We strongly refute the report’s assertion that it would have been possible or safe to evacuate more than 150 people via a narrow smoke-logged stairwell with just 30 firefighters. There is no evidence to suggest that this was possible. It is particularly alarming that the Inquiry failed on this issue to seek the advice of its own expert advisor on firefighting matters. There is therefore currently no way of knowing if evacuation could have saved more lives.

“We are disappointed that the report makes no reference to the vast additional resources needed to implement its recommendations. It’s time for government to provide national leadership, to properly fund and coordinate fire and rescue services and ensure these urgent matters of public safety are addressed.

“The true culprits of the fire are those who wrapped the building in flammable cladding, who gutted the UK’s fire safety regime, who ignored the warnings from previous fires, and who did not hear the pleas of a community worried for their safety. We will be watching phase two of the Inquiry closely to ensure they are held to account. But we cannot wait for years for the Inquiry to conclude. Change is needed now.”

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8:38 AM, 31st October 2019, About 4 years ago

the problem was not the stay put policy, had grenfell tower not been such a fire hazard then the safest option was for tenants to stay put. every flat is self contained and fireproof inside. The problem was outside . True once the firefighters realised that the fire had spread to another flat upstairs they should have changed their advice iimmediately. Firebrigades must have a register of every tall building which states how flamable it is., what hazards it contains. Had they had this then the advice would change. Had the tower not been cladded with flamable material then the problem would not have existed. The fire in one flat would have been put out as it had been and no one else would have been affected.


9:43 AM, 31st October 2019, About 4 years ago

This was a building owned and operated by the local Council who instructed the refurbishment of the building for the social residents under their care. Not only does the report expose that the cladding was illegal, it also exposes that the refurbishments did not comply with building regulations.
And yet there does not seem to be any intent to hold the local Council responsible for their delinquency. Had this been a private development I'm of the opinion that the local Council and the UK government would have been punitive in seeking accountability. I do not wish in any to detract from the horror of this disaster but the hypocrisy is inexcusable.
The development I bought into 10 years ago is also cladded. HOWEVER, the cladding was legal, the building was regularly inspected by the NHBC during construction and they issued a guarantee on the building valid for 10 years.
But I have become involved in this scandal by lieu of such cladding which now makes my properties questionable. Banks will not grant mortgages nor re-mortgage and buyers are loathe to subject themselves to any hint of danger. Hundreds of developments across London are suffering because a local Council tried to cut costs and avoid due diligence.
As a private landlord I can be fined up to GBP30 000 for a petty and unintended oversight.


11:01 AM, 31st October 2019, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by DALE ROBERTS at 31/10/2019 - 09:43
I had a NHBC guarantee on one of my own homes once. I was the second owner, I bought it just over two years after it was constructed, advertised with a NHBC guarantee of 10 years. 2 years after I bought it I had a problem with the bathroom which was due to the way the house had been originally constructed. I contacted NHBC and NHBC told me they had no contract with me.

Consequently I don't think that NHBC guarantees are worth anything.

I don't think it's just a question of the cladding: I think the whole idea of these concrete high rise buildings as social housing was always a stupid idea. I thought so in the 1960s, I think so now. The councils who build them often struggle with the maintenance costs and because the buildings are high rise tenants and owner occupiers cannot maintain them. They have always been disasters waiting to happen and not just because of fire.


13:08 PM, 31st October 2019, About 4 years ago

You do not confirm but did you take legal advice from a competent solicitor at the time you bought the property that had the benefit of the NHBC guarantee (contract?) which presumably was transferred to you with the property title? Did the NHBC guarantee / contract say it was non-transferable? We need a conveyancer's input please?

Kathy Evans

13:40 PM, 31st October 2019, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by zhorik at 31/10/2019 - 08:38
I think that the Council should be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter (or the equivalent) as a private company would have been.


13:51 PM, 31st October 2019, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Lindsay Keith at 31/10/2019 - 13:08
Both units were bought off plan and are in the same development. The builders are mega UK developers listed on your UK stock exchange. The guarantee was provided alongside every other legal document that pertained to the sale and a large UK conveyance firm acted for us. As an aside, the leasehold has also become an issue that banks and buyers are using as an argument to either not re-mortgage or grant mortgages on or abort the sale. I have found the UK a very difficult country to own property in. Odd in a country that purports to support home ownership but thwarts that ideal consistently and constantly. The sales process itself is a cumbersome and complex matter. This needs addressing as a matter of urgency but the UK seems more intent on focussing on the PRS. As a South African I am flummoxed by this perversity.


14:28 PM, 31st October 2019, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Lindsay Keith at 31/10/2019 - 13:08
At the time I bought the property it was sold to me as having a NHBC Guarantee. When I tried to have the fault rectified I was told by NHBC that I had no contract with them. As far as I could see on the paperwork the guarantee was on the property, not the original purchaser. But I did not seek legal advice at the time.

But having had that experience I lost faith in NHBC.

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