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    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeJul 1st 2017
     
    3 The windows are smaller
    The windows fit into the existing structural opening, and the frames of the new aluminium double glazed windows are larger sections that [sic] the old aluminium slider windows. At Grenfell daylight calculations have been done to evidence that the new windows all meet the standard.

    4 What are the window cills and reveals made of?
    "At flat 145 the window cill and reveals and cover pieces/trims were all shown as being in white UPVC, which does not need decorating. It is easy to wipe down if the cills get dirty, and the white reveals reflect more light into the room.

    5 What is that at the top of the window? There is a trickle ventilator, which means that if you do not want to open the window, you can use this to get a small amount of ventilation just to keep the room fresh.

    6 Kitchen window – will this be the same as the others?
    The kitchen window will have an electrical extractor fan fitted, to allow any kitchen steam from cooking or washing to be removed at source.

    7 Can I refit my blinds and curtain tracks?
    The timber surround will be left in under the UPVC so that fittings will be easy for re-fitting after the works. Rydon has surveyed all of the properties to understand the implications and talk to residents if they foresee any problems.

    To my mind, the new windows are both PVC (outer) and aluminium (inner)

    gg
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJul 1st 2017 edited
     
    GoodEvans wrote:

    I recon a 250mm square piece of most 30 minute fire doors would fail this test - it would be found to be combustible and contribute to fire.


    I have a feeling the current test is just part of an overall attempt to identify which tower blocks has the PE cladding that needs to be changed. My guess is they aren't happy relying on the paperwork or other methods of identifying the core material.

    Google suggests one way to identify the type of plastic in a sample is a burn test...

    http://www.boedeker.com/burntest.htm
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2017
     
    www.bbc.com/news/uk-40471554

    "No-one will be prosecuted for illegally subletting a Grenfell Tower flat, the government says"

    "It says its priority is supporting survivors and identifying loved ones"

    So the priority appears to be indentifying the victims, and not the technical causes of the fire ?

    Confused
    Mainland Europe
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2017 edited
     
    Posted By: djhAnd even with all those things and a huge fire, not as many lives would have been lost if the fire escape had worked properly. If fire doors had kept smoke out of the escape passageways, if ventilation had kept the air clear, if sprinklers had been fitted, if there was more than one escape route. The list goes on and on.
    My suspicion is that the failure of fire escape route (stairwell), the door into each flat (fire door), and the smoke in the stairwell were all as a result of the fire being in multiple compartments at once. The design would probably have only allowed for 2 or 3 simultaneous compartment fires (a reasonable assumption) as that was the whole basis for the fire survival system. Once there were more compartments than that, the design was overwhelmed.

    Smoke leaked into the stairwell from multiple sources and the ventilation could not clear it quick enough to provide safe exit.

    As to a single escape, again, if the main assumption (fire is contained in a limited number of compartments) had held, it would have worked. I'd like to know how you could have created an alternative exit route that would have worked in this case. You would still have the excessive smoke issue.

    The other one is sprinklers. Sprinklers in the stairwell may have helped, but I doubt they would have triggered early enough as the issue here is more than likely to be smoke rather than heat. Sprinklers in each flat may have made the fire easier to control (smoke from outside may still have been fatal), but they are unlikely to be close enough to the outside to prevent/attenuate that part of the fire. What they may have done was to have put out the original fire but even then we do not yet know how the fire migrated between the internal and external fabric. If anything, this is the key to it all as that is where the containment initially failed.

    A central fire alarm system and a 'get out' policy may have been the best route to reduce the risk of loss of life.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2017
     
    Posted By: borpin
    Posted By: djhAnd even with all those things and a huge fire, not as many lives would have been lost if the fire escape had worked properly. If fire doors had kept smoke out of the escape passageways, if ventilation had kept the air clear, if sprinklers had been fitted, if there was more than one escape route. The list goes on and on.

    My suspicion is that the failure of fire escape route (stairwell), the door into each flat (fire door), and the smoke in the stairwell were all as a result of the fire being in multiple compartments at once. The design would probably have only allowed for 2 or 3 simultaneous compartment fires (a reasonable assumption) as that was the whole basis for the fire survival system. Once there were more compartments than that, the design was overwhelmed.

    I don't think the situation was that benign. I don't think fire doors were fitted to every flat, and I don't think those that were operated and/or were fitted correctly. Each fire door only has a fire in one compartment behind it, so the number of compartments on fire should make little difference.

    Smoke leaked into the stairwell from multiple sources and the ventilation could not clear it quick enough to provide safe exit.

    Indeed, which points to a design problem.

    As to a single escape, again, if the main assumption (fire is contained in a limited number of compartments) had held, it would have worked. I'd like to know how you could have created an alternative exit route that would have worked in this case. You would still have the excessive smoke issue.

    My suspicion is that you can't create another fire escape in blocks like this and the only sensible option is to knock them all down. The only possible way to do it I can think of is an external fire escape as sometimes seen in American movies, but that would have been a deathtrap unless it was completely clad in a totally fire resistant skin, and ventilated adequately.

    The other one is sprinklers. Sprinklers in the stairwell may have helped, but I doubt they would have triggered early enough as the issue here is more than likely to be smoke rather than heat. Sprinklers in each flat may have made the fire easier to control (smoke from outside may still have been fatal), but they are unlikely to be close enough to the outside to prevent/attenuate that part of the fire. What they may have done was to have put out the original fire but even then we do not yet know how the fire migrated between the internal and external fabric. If anything, this is the key to it all as that is where the containment initially failed.

    It's quite clear that the regs here are totally inadequate. Even if a regs-compliant sprinkler system had been fitted, it wouldn't have done a lot. A system to commercial regs would have stood a better chance.

    A central fire alarm system and a 'get out' policy may have been the best route to reduce the risk of loss of life.

    But there are well-known and well-understood problems with such policies. Too many false alarms and the cry wolf effect is just a minor one. The difficulty fire service rescuers had reaching the upper floors is an example of another, even without a formal evacuation policy in place. Certainly in this case, though, getting as many people down the stairs as fast as possible was clearly the best policy. Easy to see in hindsight.

    I stand by what I wrote.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJul 2nd 2017
     
    There's an interesting article by George Clarke in the ST.

    The story is behind a register-wall so I've no idea whether it works (I only read the paper):
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/george-clarke-lives-in-the-shadow-of-grenfell-tower-today-he-calls-for-a-review-of-all-social-housing-vjglz8z55
  1.  
    Posted By: djh
    As to a single escape, again, if the main assumption (fire is contained in a limited number of compartments) had held, it would have worked. I'd like to know how you could have created an alternative exit route that would have worked in this case. You would still have the excessive smoke issue.

    My suspicion is that you can't create another fire escape in blocks like this and the only sensible option is to knock them all down. The only possible way to do it I can think of is an external fire escape as sometimes seen in American movies, but that would have been a deathtrap unless it was completely clad in a totally fire resistant skin, and ventilated adequately.


    Are there examples of other fires in tower blocks, where a duplicate fire stair would have prevented fatalities?

    As I understand it, there are lots of examples of fires in tower blocks, but they are nearly all successfully contained within one unit, except where fire spread up the outside has played a part.

    Therefore, if external fire spread problem is solved, the evidence would suggest that as long as compartmentation is properly enforced (ie. thoroughly checking all doors between flats and lobbies) a single escape stair strategy can be safe.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJul 3rd 2017
     
    Posted By: gyrogear"No-one will be prosecuted for illegally subletting a Grenfell Tower flat, the government says"

    "It says its priority is supporting survivors and identifying loved ones"

    So the priority appears to be indentifying the victims, and not the technical causes of the fire ?


    No they are just saying they don't want people to hide for fear of being prosecuted or deported.
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeJul 3rd 2017
     
    Posted By: lineweightTherefore, if external fire spread problem is solved, the evidence would suggest that as long as compartmentation is properly enforced (ie. thoroughly checking all doors between flats and lobbies) a single escape stair strategy can be safe.
    That is the theory but avoid the word safe as that implies nothing can go wrong. Folk die in 2 storey houses.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJul 3rd 2017
     
    Posted By: lineweighta single escape stair strategy can be safe

    So are you saying you'd be happy to live in a tower block with a single staircase?
  2.  
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: djh</cite>So are you saying you'd be happy to live in a tower block with a single staircase?</blockquote>

    "As I understand it, there are lots of examples of fires in tower blocks, but they are nearly all successfully contained within one unit, except where fire spread up the outside has played a part."

    There's never a complete elimination of risk but there are risks that are remote enough not to be a major concern. Are you saying every tower block, both residential and commercial, should be demolished even though they do not pose a significant risk? Pretty much all tower blocks have a single staircase as they're built around a central core than contains services (ie, lifts and stairs).
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJul 3rd 2017 edited
     
    What about fires in the stair well?

    This from 2015...

    http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/crime/fears-stairwell-fire-raising-could-be-out-of-control-1-3765677

    "Figures for 2013-14 show there were 25 suspect stair fires in Edinburgh – only two fewer than in Glasgow, despite ­Glasgow’s larger population."
  3.  
    Posted By: djh
    Posted By: lineweighta single escape stair strategy can be safe

    So are you saying you'd be happy to live in a tower block with a single staircase?


    So long as it has non flammable stairs with sealed fire doors, sprinkler and most important positive pressure ventilation with fans at the base and smoke escape on top floor.

    Obviously needs to be kept rubbish free and no silly painting with inflammable paint.
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeJul 4th 2017
     
    Posted By: djh
    Posted By: lineweighta single escape stair strategy can be safe
    So are you saying you'd be happy to live in a tower block with a single staircase?
    I wouldn't be happy in any tower block!
    It is all about risk. Life is a risk. Crossing the road is a risk. Nothing is truly 'safe', just the risk has been reduced to an acceptable level. If designed correctly, there is no reason a tower block with a single stairwell cannot meet that requirement. The fact they have been in use for so long, with so many people in them, and a relatively low level of loss of life, demonstrates that. 2 stairwells does not guarantee safety either. In the case of Grenfell, it is likely that any secondary stairwell would have been overcome as well.

    However, get the design of a block of flats wrong and the consequences are magnified - that is the real issue. A car goes through a design process that is less rigorous than a commercial airliner as the consequence of a failure of the plane is significantly greater. It is all about risk. The design of such building must be more rigorous and we all know about the failures in the building industry of regulations and the regulatory authority.

    The other element is choice - is it your choice to take the risk? In the case of social housing, very often the people do not have the choice as to take the risk. That is a more difficult issue to solve. In that area, you simply could not provide the number of low level houses required for everyone.
  4.  
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: borpin</cite>In that area, you simply could not provide the number of low level houses required for everyone.</blockquote>

    That's an interesting one. I've certainly read the claim in a number of places that most 60s/70s tower block developments in the UK didn't actually result in a particularly high population density (often lower than the housing they replaced) - they were set out with a lot of space around that was intended to be common 'parkland'. Lynsey Hansley's Estates is a good reader, also, John Grindrod's Concretopia.

    Most of Europe achieves higher density than UK cities by predominantly building apartment blocks of no more than 6 stories.

    Whether that holds true with modern planning I'm not sure - cities outside Europe build high blocks incredibly close together (I'm thinking of the famous shots of HongKong) but there's a good argument that the quality of life balance/density/outside space is best served European style.
  5.  
    I don't have much to add to what other have answered the question put to me about whether I'd be happy to live in a single staircase tower block. When I say "safe", I mean an acceptable level of risk.

    If I were living in a tower block in London (assuming it was properly managed and so on) then I think that if I were given the choice of (a) being moved to low-rise housing or (b) having 20mph speed limits actually enforced throughout the city's streets, I'd go for the latter, because I suspect that would have the greater impact on my safety and indeed quality of life.

    I think there's a danger of over-reaction to the Grenfell Tower, certainly if it's along the lines of "knock down all tower blocks" because it would be quite easy for hugely disruptive and expensive measures to be taken that wouldn't be justified by the real level of reduction of risk. There are potentially lots of other things where resources could be used more effectively to reduce risk. The death toll at Grenfell is horrific of course, but (for example) have a look at statistics for fatalities and injuries on London's roads, year on year. Sadly they don't provoke the same outrage because they aren't as visible.

    None of this means that I'd disagree that there should be an urgent enquiry into what, in technical terms, went wrong at Grenfell, or that proportionate measures should be taken according to the results of that enquiry.
  6.  
    Posted By: Simon Still

    That's an interesting one. I've certainly read the claim in a number of places that most 60s/70s tower block developments in the UK didn't actually result in a particularly high population density (often lower than the housing they replaced) - they were set out with a lot of space around that was intended to be common 'parkland'. Lynsey Hansley's Estates is a good reader, also, John Grindrod's Concretopia.

    Most of Europe achieves higher density than UK cities by predominantly building apartment blocks of no more than 6 stories.

    Whether that holds true with modern planning I'm not sure - cities outside Europe build high blocks incredibly close together (I'm thinking of the famous shots of HongKong) but there's a good argument that the quality of life balance/density/outside space is best served European style.


    Some of this is true.

    What it tends to overlook is that there are some sites where building tall (in terms of achieving maximum density) can make sense - for example, sites adjacent to open land (whether water, or say a railway line). A tall building can take advantage of that chunk of fresh air/unobstructed sky, and/or cast its shadow onto that chunk of ground, which can't be built upon.

    Also, when a tall building is already existing, it may have a sort of grandfather rights, in terms of any impact on surrounding areas, that means that it gets away with it, and reducing its height would result in fewer units because it can't spread out into the surrounding "parkland" which in reality doesn't exist.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2017 edited
     
    At last, some detail that sounds convincing, not mangled by journalist ignorance
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/13/grenfell-tower-building-control-warned-about-refit-insulation-plan
    Independent Building Control (or lack/ineffectiveness of) as the long-stop failure.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2017
     
    Posted By: fostertomIndependent Building Control (or lack/ineffectiveness of) as the long-stop failure.

    Where do you get that from, Tom? The article says local authority building control was used, does it not?
  7.  
    Posted By: fostertomAt last, some detail that sounds convincing, not mangled by journalist ignorance
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/13/grenfell-tower-building-control-warned-about-refit-insulation-plan" rel="nofollow" >https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/13/grenfell-tower-building-control-warned-about-refit-insulation-plan
    Independent Building Control (or lack/ineffectiveness of) as the long-stop failure.


    I have to disagree - I think it is indeed still mangled by journalist ignorance.

    I'm fairly sure that the "certificate" they are referring to is this one:

    https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwjw1Nyf1JLVAhWID8AKHfBBD2MQFggoMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.labss.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Few491_celotex_ltd_0.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHG_xVqcwmEeM_wegZ92f6eqTCh2g

    That's a generic technical guidance certificate issued by LABC - it is not related specifically to the installation at Grenfell.

    It also doesn't say what the journalist says it says - that it should only be used with non-combustible cladding or that it should only be used with fibre cement panels. It simply says that the certificate relates to its use in one particular buildup, using fibre cement panels, and that if a different system is used, this needs to be assessed on its own merits, and effectively refers back to what we already know is stated in the Approved Document.

    We don't, as far as I'm aware, at present have any information on whether the Grenfell spec was assessed using one of the methods described in the AD.

    So I don't think this article really offers any new information.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime4 days ago
     
    Here's a somewhat simpler version of the URL: https://www.labss.org/sites/default/files/ew491_celotex_ltd_0.pdf
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTime4 days ago
     
    Some interesting comments in this article written last month whice I've only just seen..

    https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-herald/20170623/282132111446930

    Apparently the fire certification for the Reynobond PE panels has the "CE mark indicated" but "on closer inspection it transpires that it is only Reynolux - the aluminium skin - which is CE approved.

    The BBA certificate (which I think is still valid) apparently says "For resistance to fire, the performance of a wall incorporating this product, can only be determined by tests from a suitably accredited laboritory and is not covered by this certificate." The BBA haven't approved it for use on walls.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime4 days ago
     
    What a very strange site! Horizontal scrolling. And what a very strange perspective. A CE mark by itself doesn't tell you anything about a product's fitness for purpose in a particular use; it's pretty much irrelevant.
  8.  
    Here is the original letter, which was published in the Herald and scrolls vertically on their website

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/letters/15365758.Letters__Serious_concerns_about_Grenfell_cladding/
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime4 days ago
     
    Thanks, Will. That's a lot easier to read and the second comment points out that it was local authority building control that were checking, not an independent inspector.

    A CE mark on something just means that the manufacturer self-certifies that the product has all the necessary approvals to be placed on the market in Europe, as I understand it. It's illegal to market a product in Europe without such a mark.

    The actual BBA cert is at http://www.bbacerts.co.uk/CertificateFiles/45/4510PS1i1.pdf It is really just a translation into English and English law of the original French certificate.

    As Colin says, it states in scetion 6.5 that tests must be carried out to determine fire resistance of any proposed wall build up. Section 6.6 also stresses "Particular attention should be paid to preventing the spread of fire from
    within a building breaching the cladding system through window and door openings."

    The BBA certificate is only valid for Alcoa Architectural Products. I wonder how Arconic can use it?
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTime3 days ago edited
     
    Posted By: djh
    Posted By: fostertomIndependent Building Control (or lack/ineffectiveness of) as the long-stop failure.

    Where do you get that from, Tom? The article says local authority building control was used, does it not?
    And it failed! Whether the failure was in the letter of various kinds of devolved regulatory documentation, or in enforcement.
    Dave's clarified that it was old fashioned LABC control, not some privatised 'control' (as in, wangle it through) outfit.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime3 days ago edited
     
    There's an interesting document about fires caused by fridges

    https://www.ior.org.uk/app/images/downloads/Holborn%202Mar%20London%20final.pdf

    In particular it highlights the difference in casualties in the US and the UK and speculates about a possible reason:

    "European standards are largely controlled and set by manufacturers and their representatives, placing a potential impediment to change. In contrast, in the USA design and regulation of refrigerators is driven by the insurance industry (via the Underwriters Laboratory) and threat of litigation."
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTime2 days ago
     
    Can't remember if I posted this before but it explains how they justified using the cladding with RS5000 insulation.

    I was gobsmacked when I saw it..

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40465399

    Selected quotes:

    "Part of the engineers' reasoning was that, in a fire test, you would get similar results if you were to use either combustible aluminium panels or non-combustible ceramic tiles."

    "As a consequence, it argued, you could use successful fire tests involving ceramic tiles as a guide to the likely fire safety of a system using aluminium panels."
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime2 days ago
     
    I don't think I've seen that article before, Colin, so thanks for posting the link.

    It's a very worrying news report. With hindsight, it implies either a gross misunderstanding by whoever wrote the desktop studies (and multiple whoevers at that) or else a fundamental flaw in the testing regime. It certainly supports the calls for all such data, whether experimental tests or desktop studies to be made public, both now and forever more.
  9.  
    Posted By: CWatters"As a consequence, it argued, you could use successful fire tests involving ceramic tiles as a guide to the likely fire safety of a system using aluminium panels."

    Using the test results of one item to assume the results of another item that is of a totally different material and manufacture method seems to me to be fundamentally flawed
   
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