Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
May 10, 2018

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Grenfell cost-cutting, Grenfell inquiry looks at electrical fires and Airbnb safety

Plan to fit Grenfell Tower with non-flammable panels was abandoned

A costed proposal to fit Grenfell Tower with fire-resistant cladding was dropped owing to pressure from Kensington and Chelsea Council to slash refurbishment costs, according to The Guardian.

Rather than accepting a £3.3m quote from cladding company D+B Facades to fit non-flammable solid aluminium sheets with non-combustible mineral wool insulation, the council put the contract out to tender to save £1.3m.

The council chose construction company Rydon, which gave a lower quote, but fitted the 24-storey tower with combustible plastic-filled aluminium composite panels and synthetic insulation, catching fire so tragically on 14 June last year, killing 72 people.

In a bitter irony, the fatal chosen cladding ended up costing more than the original quote.

Read more on the Guardian

New electrical expert witness appointed to Grenfell inquiry

The Grenfell Tower inquiry has turned its attention to the issue of electrical fires, and has appointed Dr J Duncan Glover, founder of Failure Electrical LLC, as a new expert witness in that sphere.

Dr Glover’s area of specialisation is electrical engineering issues, particularly failure analysis of electrical systems, subsystems and components, including the causes of electrical fires.

He has 25 years’ experience of investigating a wide range of electrical and electronic equipment failures including explosions, fires and injuries.

Dr Glover joins nine other expert witnesses to the inquiry including Dr Barbara Lane, Leader of Fire Safety Engineering at Arup, Luke Bisby, Professor of Fire and Structures at the University of Edinburgh and Steve McGuirk, former Chief Fire Officer, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and South Yorkshire.

The role of the expert witnesses to the inquiry is to prepare reports on their individual subjects, which will be disclosed to all core participants and presented during the inquiry’s hearings.

Read more on Inside Housing

RIBA to reveal updated fire safety guidance

 The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) will publish its Plan of Work for Fire offering updated best practice guidance on fire protection at a special conference to be held at its London HQ on 12 June.

The conference, entitled ‘Protecting Lives: Design & Construction Post Grenfell’, will feature experts from across the built environment, who will analyse current failings in the design, procurement, construction and maintenance of buildings and provide alternative solutions for industry and regulations.

 Speakers will include Dame Judith Hackitt and a representative of the Grenfell Fire Forum.

RIBA, the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) and other construction stakeholders have been developing the plan since last October as an add-on to RIBA’s Plan of Works in a bid to fill the gaps in the UK’s fire protection processes.

The Plan of Work for Fire aims to ensure there is a detailed specification for fire protection at the design stage of a building and a schedule for fire protection throughout the construction and facilities management process.

Read more on RIBA’s Architecture.com

Fire safety flaws in in Airbnb properties

A study has found that while around 80% of Airbnb rentals in 16 US cities have smoke detectors, only just over half (58%) had carbon monoxide detectors and less than half (42%) a fire extinguisher or first-aid kits (36%).

Whether these devices are in working order, even if they are in place, was an unanswered question.

Researchers focused on fire safety features listed among the amenities in almost 121,000 rental listings of rooms and homes available through Airbnb in 16 cities including Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Unsurprisingly, cities such as Nashville that require permits for all short-term rental properties had the highest rate of smoke alarms.

Despite the increasing popularity of Airbnb and similar privately-owned short-term peer-to-peer rental sites, the industry is not uniformly regulated, unlike the hotel industry, where fire protection, such as signed fire escape routes, fire doors, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems, is a legal requirement.

In the USA in 2015, there were over 1.3m fires, which caused over 2,500 deaths and over US$14 billion in property damage.

Read more on Reuters

 

 

 

The Future of Fire Safety: download the eBook

Is the fire protection industry adapting to the post-Grenfell reality fast enough? At FIREX International 2019, Europe's only dedicated fire safety event, some of the world's leading fire safety experts covered this theme. This eBook covers the key insights from those discussions on the developments shaping the profession, with topics including:

  • Grenfell Inquiry must yield “bedrock change” – and soon
  • After Grenfell: Jonathan O’Neill OBE on how austerity and policy “on the hoof” are hampering progress
  • Hackitt’s Golden Thread: Fire, facilities and building safety
  • Fire safety community has to “get on board” with technological changes

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Jan Taranczuk
Jan Taranczuk
May 10, 2018 8:17 pm

I think the headline is slightly wrong! The electrical expert is for the Grenfell Inquiry not the Hackitt Review

sean coleman
sean coleman
May 22, 2018 10:14 am

I am wondering if much thought has been given to the fact that rental residents such as those using Airbnb who are not familiar with buildings understand the escape drills and action in the event of fire or hearing alarm. The regulations and guides would require a higher standard of safety for hostel or hotel style accommodation yet many of the tall buildings may be used for short term rents.