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Jun 15 2017

Tower Block Inferno: Harrow buildings also use same cladding, says Daily Mail [updated]

Following the horrific events in west London only a day or two ago, where 17 people – and potentially many more – lost their lives as a result of an inferno sweeping through the Grenfell Tower just off the A40 in Notting Hill, the Daily Mail has revealed that some buildings in Harrow may be encased in the same, or similar, rainproof cladding:

“Six tower blocks in Harrow, northwest London, were given the rainproof cladding when it was refurbished in 2015 in a contract worth £3.5 million…” (source).

The cladding, designed to enhance the appearance of the buildings, as well, perhaps, to extend their lifespan, is set to be at the centre of an investigation into fire safety after witnesses claimed it ‘went up like a matchstick’, helping spread the fire from the tower’s fourth floor to the roof in just 15 minutes.

The council has been contacted, and asked to identify the buildings in the borough, and what action it is taking to ensure residents’ safety. We’ll update this article if we get a response.

Update: It seems that the Daily Mail got confused between Harrow and Harrow Road. However, the council has failed to respond to our request for details of which buildings in Harrow might use the same cladding, although it has posted on Twitter:

 

Observant readers will note that the council has only said that the cladding isn’t used on tower blocks in the borough – because there aren’t any. It hasn’t responded to the question if any buildings in the borough use the same cladding…

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  1. irritated

    I can hear the shredders working overtime at Harrow council offices as we speak! I am keen to hear what our Council is going to offer us as an explanation and a plan going forward. Given the tragedy and the loss of lives yesterday, I hope our Council is working overtime to ensure nothing like his happens in our Borough

  2. Sonoo Malkani

    Let’s make sure no stone is left unturned to identify any such buildings,assuming there are some here in our borough,which may fall into the same category,so that none of our people are exposed to the horrendous outcomes and tragedy we have just witnessed.Nobody should be allowed to put resources and funding ahead of lives which must be protected at all costs.

  3. Sonoo Malkani

    Deeply shocked and saddened to watch the Towering Inferno which has resulted in such a devastating tragedy in London.Our prayers and thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have lost their lives in this terrible Inferno.May they Rest in Eternal Peace.

  4. Concerned Harrovian

    If I lived in a tower block in Harrow, I would be frantic reading that my building was clad in the same material suspected of causing the fire in Grenfell Towers. Harrow Council should be holding emergency meetings and consulting with residents immediately if not sooner.

  5. Niall

    Surprisingly for a Daily Mail article, this is not accurate. The tower blocks mentioned are on Harrow Road, Little Venice, Westminster.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Excellent interjection Niall, thank you; Also explains why no-one has seen one here.

    2. irritated

      thank you Niall. Overreaction having read the Daily Mail article. Phew, We can sleep easy in our Borough then?

  6. Someonewhocares

    A very sad and needless loss of many lives: From the diagrams provided the aluminium composite cladding was not the main problem – it was combining it with the flammable insulation that produced the chimney effect that was apparent. How this possibility was this not spotted by the relevant safety “experts” etc is beyond me: Clearly *somebody, somewhere* has irresponsibly signed this off -and in an ‘official’ capacity- as ‘appropriate for high-rise blocks’ – and they should be imprisoned.

    Not noticed any buildings in Harrow using this particular “cosmetic improvement” technique but I expect the residents in such buildings will come forward soon if the Council don’t.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Furthermore, and shamefully, it has emerged that:-

      ” The supplier of the cladding on Grenfell Tower said it had been asked for “Reynobond PE” rather than “Reynobond FR” – Fire Resistant – which is * £2/square metre more expensive..*

      German construction companies have been banned from using plastic-filled cladding (such as Reynobond PE) on towers more than 22 metres high since the 1980s when regulations were brought in to improve fire safety at residential blocks….
      …..tighter fire-safety rules for tower blocks in Germany meant that a similar incident could not happen there. Concerns that the panels could exacerbate the spread of fires led authorities to allow them only on buildings that can be reached by the fire brigade using fully-extended ladders from the ground. Taller buildings require panels with a more fire-resistant core and separate staircases for people to use if evacuation becomes necessary.

      US building codes also restrict the use of metal-composite panels without flame-retardant cores on buildings above 15 metres. “

      1. Someonewhocares

        Further clarification about the issue relating to the cladding they used “being banned here’:

        ” According to the European distributor of ….. the Reynobond PE cladding used [it] was suitable only for buildings 10 metres or less tall, the higher-grade Reynobond FR to 30 metres tall, and above that height, as Grenfell Tower was, the *non-combustible A2 version* should be used.

        According to the US-based manufacturer, the polyethylene [PE] version of the material is banned in the United States for use in buildings exceeding 40 feet (12 m) in height, because of the risk of spreading fire and smoke.”

        Grenfell Tower is 67 metres high

        Key Source:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grenfell_Tower_fire

        1. Someonewhocares

          Unfortunately it appears that the UK fire safety ‘standards’ in fact “work differently”:

          ” Building regulations documents did NOT specifically say PE-core panels should NOT be used… but that did NOT mean builders were clearly permitted to use them. That is because British safety regulations across many industries are usually ‘principles-based’ rather than ‘rules-based’. This means the law often requires companies to act safely without giving a specific definition of what this would involve.. Firms are instead expected to be able to prove in court that they behaved in a way that their industry would consider safe, given current knowledge and technology ”

          *Or, in other words, UK companies have no real major ‘incentives’ to use the safest materials*?

          And, presumably the ‘principle’ involved here is “if it is cheaper (and we can get away with it) it will do”?

          Now, what was that the “Idiots in Chief ” have been saying recently about “if you bring in a New Regulation you have to tear up three old ones”?

          1. Someonewhocares

            For any who may have missed it: Overall it is rather more complicated than this but In the past few days allegations have arisen that indicate one individual in particular -in the UK sales team for the composite board manufacturer concerned- is possibly to blame. Apparently she may have requested -*albeit primarily for cosmetic reasons*- the non-compliant (at least for the height of the building) product responsible for this disaster…

            Incidentally “high-rise” in this whole context generally means “over 5 stories”.

  7. Sonoo Malkani

    Hope and pray you are right and that Harrow does not have any buildings with the same cladding.Shudder to think of 4000 other buildings which are deemed to have done so nation-wide.

  8. Terry

    I wouldn’t put money on it. But hopefully Sadiq Khan will reverse his decision to grant planning permission for the two 17 storey tower blocks that he rubber stamped as soon as he was elected (after standing on an anti tower block platform) He overruled the local council and residents in granting these monstrosities that nobody wanted. Now show some decently and cancel the them immediately!!

    1. Wealdstone Warrior

      I am in total agreement Terry, on this. This unfortunate event has highlighted public safety in these high rise towers.

      State of London debate 29th June 2017, 19:00 – 21:00 pm @ O2 Indigo. Tickets still available to ask Sadiq Khan questions. I would advise queuing early, as they issue more tickets than required and you are not guaranteed entry if seats fill up fast. https://www.london.gov.uk/events/2017-06-29/state-london-debate.

      1. ricky123

        Thanks for that WW, its gonna take more than 2 hours to debate the state of London more like 2 weeks. And as for debating the state of the Country 2 years if not longer.

  9. Concerned Harrovian

    I completely agree with the previous poster. The London Mayor should show some moral courage and cancel the twin towers of Wealdstone. Why di people have to live like battery hens in tower blocks that resemble chimneys?

  10. Concerned Harrovian

    Why can’t Sadiq Khan spend a month ,living, like a battery hen, at each tower block that residents are unhappy about? He could make a true connection with the people of London.it is no good talking a good talk and then going back home to your comfortable,fire safe pad.

  11. Concerned Harrovian

    A petition has been set up to ask the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to reconsider his permission for the building of two 17 storey high twin towers in Wealdstone. Harrow Council refused permission for the two tower blocks to be built. Sadiq Khan overruled Harrow Council and gave the developers permission

  12. Godhelpus

    Please sign this petition and forward on the anyone who objects to the two tower blocks scheduled for Wealdstone

    http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/wealdstone-tower-blocks

  13. Wealdstone Warrior

    Do you have a link to that petition CH? I wonder if Sadiq Khan still believes that tall buildings are the answer to London’s Housing shortage, from this article in the Evening Standard 28th March 2017 http://www.standard.co.uk/news/mayor/sadiq-khan-backs-tall-buildings-if-they-enhance-londons-skyline-a3500851.html

    Those planned twin towers of Wealdstone certainly won’t enhance the skyline. Time for his vanity projects to be put on hold.

    No matter how safe they consider the safety standards, people should not be living in high rise towers. These death traps need to be pulled down once and for all.

  14. Wealdstone Warrior

    Floors plans of the twin towers of Wealdstone and whole development are here. From what I can see, only one stairwell in the tall blocks, correct me if I am wrong? If anyone has time to read through the plans, see if there is anything on fire safety and sprinkler systems. http://www.harrow.gov.uk/planningsearch/lg/GFPlanningViewDocumentInDialog.page

    1. Someonewhocares

      That link is just coming up as the Document *Reader* WW…..

      I understand though that very few existing high-rise blocks actually have sprinkler systems installed and if so it is very unlikely they are specified in that document either (?).

  15. Wealdstone Warrior

    Try this link http://www.harrow.gov.uk/planningsearch/lg/GFPlanningSearch.page

    Application number is P/1619/16

    1. Someonewhocares

      A *lot* of documents there WW… Not to mention the numerous objections, as you know.

      Yes, there is *one* stairwell (in one corner of each building): There is not much detail however specific to Building Safety however and no references about sprinklers either. Time to escalate objections, clearly!

  16. Someonewhocares

    Awful, for many reasons, but primarily for lack of *proper answers* from Gove (as usual)
    Any *good* Government Minister would have *all* the details *before* such interviews…..
    So, *is the cladding banned here*?…. Truly Appalling.

  17. Someonewhocares

    Also appalling is the fact that there have been (ignored) safety issues dating back *over 4 years*:
    https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/kctmo-playing-with-fire/

    And now – and it is *absolutely no consolation whatsoever* to all the victims – the KTCMO CEO has now “resigned”? (No doubt with £££ ‘compensation’) Not good enough, as it is extremely likely that “willful negligence” is also involved, and their Council officers must be ‘highly implicated’ as far as that is concerned(?). Thus only *Criminal Proceedings* will stop this kind of tragedy from happening again.

  18. Someonewhocares

    Incidentally HARROW COUNCIL, *this* is how to placate residents, not ambivalent tweets:

    https://www.brent.gov.uk/services-for-residents/housing/grenfell-tower/

  19. Concerned Harrovian

    Saw Councillor Susan Hall on the Parliamentary channel questioning London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, about the twin towers of Wealdstone. His response was this was what residents wanted! So why have residents started a petition asking Mr Khan to reconsider his decision to allow the twin towers to be built?

    1. Someonewhocares

      Did not see that myself CH (-what date?-) but did SH then remind him he used his ‘call in’ to over-rule the planners etc?

  20. ricky123

    Wealdstone has far to many people living there (and everywhere else) we dont need more housing or flats being built anywhere, we need people who should not be here to GET OUT.

  21. Wealdstone Warrior

    More concerning are the amount of private properties & developments in the borough that appear to be clad. Flats, offices and other buildings.

    So now Sadiq “overuler” Khan is an expert on new buildings and fire safety. Well done to Susan asking this question at Mayors Questions. Maybe someone needs to overrule Sadiq, so arrogant of him not to consider a review of the building plans. Quite clear there appears to more emphasis on the building being environmentally friendly & looking good, than fire proof. One stairwell and no sprinkler system in a 17 storey block of flats. I would like to know which residents wanted these flats built, certainly not me!

    He is all for the high rises’s previously built in the last century to be pulled down, as he has publicly declared this on TV, but wants to build more, still with one stairwell.

    1. susan hall

      I did question Sadiq Khan. I am delighted that as of last Tuesday I am serving on the London Assembly. My first Mayor Questions was Thursday. Clearly many of us in Harrow want to know if he is revisiting his decision to overturn Harrow’s planning committee regarding the building of the 17 story high rise. I also asked about another development in Lambeth. I am particularly concerned that I could not find any reference to sprinklers in Harrow’s proposed block. His response was that he was ‘surprised’ that I should ask. I think its disgraceful that he overturned the wish of us residents in Harrow and our planning committee. I will ask Paul if he is able to lift the clip of the question and the answer from twitter where its doing the rounds.

      Please be assured I will continue to ask difficult questions of the Mayor although frankly I doubt he will answer properly or listen!

  22. Sonoo Malkani

    Please tune in to Parliament Channel on Sky and see for yourself at the Mayor’s Question Time meeting on 22 June Susan Hall asking why these Towers were being built in Harrow and hear Sadiq Khan’s response.

    I feel personally,that even if the people had said this is what they wanted,we have a duty to review the position and respond to an absolute catastrophe which we all have witnessed with total horror.

    Do we still want to build such high buildings which inherently will have risks attached?Isn’t the price of human life an over-riding concern?We desperately need accommodation in Harrow but should not allow that to close our eyes to the dangers which might follow in its wake.New buildings need all sorts of extra fire protection built into them—sprinklers,fire doors for each flat,more ways to get out fast and definitely cladding which has been thoroughly fire-tested.Costs will escalate but better that than another Grenfell surely.

    A petition,signed by a significant number of citizens,will mean the Mayor of London must re-consider,despite his Election promises.Have to be flexible and go with the flow.

  23. ricky123

    Ms Sonoo I have to disagree with you, we do not desperately need accommodation in harrow, First of all there is loads of empty flats in Harrow town centre alone, There is a big banner saying flats to rent and secondly there are far to many people in Harrow, if we keep building it will encourage them to stay here and when they have kids we need more flats, it will never end. Have a look at Cairo, thats what Harrow will look like in a couple of years. I and I imagine a lot of people will agree with me. Bottom Line – TO MANY PEOPLE HERE IN THIS COUNTRY.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Ah. so that why you voted ‘Leave’ Ricky – TOO many people? Oh dear……

      Never mind, what about all those poor folks in Monaco?
      https://www.mapsofworld.com/europe/thematic/countries-with-population-density.html

      Looking forward the Great Pyramids of Harrow in ‘a few years’ though…..

  24. Someonewhocares

    Shortly after the Grenfell disaster Sadiq Khan stated (extract):

    “In the postwar rush to reconstruct our country, towers went up in large numbers, most of which are still here today. Nowadays, we would not dream of building towers to the standards of the 1970s, but their inhabitants still have to live with that legacy. It may well be the defining outcome of this tragedy that the worst mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s are systematically torn down. Of course, this must mean people being rehoused in the same areas where they have put down roots.”

    First, he missed the main point there; *Before* their external “refurbishment” many of these buildings were actually safer.

    Secondly, clearly the Fire/Safety provisions are (still) so woefully inadequate that few would actually choose to live in a tower block now of course.

    Time for a MAJOR re-think for new high-rise blocks, surely?

  25. Someonewhocares

    The truth is now emerging… probably… as the blame for this spreads:

    “The Government’s own fire inspectors told it last year that tower blocks were covered in flammable material, but that regulations were “adequate”, it has been reported. The Building Research Establishment, sent reports of the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2016 warning of risks.

    The reports say: “With the exception of one or two unfortunate cases, there is currently no evidence from BRE’s fire investigations for DCLG to suggest that current building regulation recommendations, to limit vertical fire spread up the exterior of high rise buildings, are failing in their purpose.”

    Ah, so presumably ‘adequate’ Regulations in this context means that the number of fatalities is commercially acceptable then? Whoever described these products as “adequate” should be identified and have more-than-adequate punishment/s too…

  26. Sonoo Malkani

    No government dare turn its back on these important issues and would do so at its own peril.I am sure with so many eyes firmly fixed on what will emerge from various inquiries no sane person,tasked with the great responsibility of fire safety, would go around making the same old noises as they might have felt they could get away, with prior to this monumental tragedy.Any cover-ups or corners cut by persons in charge of fire safety, which are proven to have contributed to this hellish fire must be exposed publicly and punished very severely. Some officials will not like what I am saying as they are often expected to toe the line and do their masters bidding.

    Being a humble but very committed member of our local community I would like to remind them that much as we value our jobs,in the final analysis,we are accountable to our Maker.For those who do not believe in that, at least to our own conscience.I am sure most of us would not be able to sleep peacefully knowing full well that what we are signing up to could amount to putting people’s lives at risk once more—Heavens forbid.The acid test should be,would I live there MYSELF or allow a LOVED ONE to so so?

    We all understand profit margins count but they must not be allowed to take precedence over human lives.

    Throughout London there is a shortage of accommodation.Harrow has its own unique requirements.Tower blocks are certainly not one of them.They are proving to be death traps and must be avoided like the plague.The Mayor of London must be persuaded to re-think this especially as our Council has also opposed it.Surely,local citizens and Councillors know their own needs best,not the Mayor of London.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Clearly OUR Government/s did turn their back on the potential hazards (unlike other countries where they heeded the warnings, Europe, USA, Oz….).

      No doubt we will have a now 6-month ‘enquiry’ exercise where “important lessons have been learned” – although in fact most probably “backsides will be covered” instead(?)

      Clearly Governments, Mayors, Councillors etc have insufficient technical capabilities to make such decisions as these. I hope that the REAL specialists – those with the appropriate skills, insights and experience – are also allowed to make major contributions to the ‘enquiry’ too:

      1. Someonewhocares

        Ah yes the ‘official cover-up’ begins: The latest is (Commercial lawyer) Martin Moore-Bick will chair the Public Enquiry – and his *preliminary* report “may take up to a year” (!)…. And will “only look at why the fire spread so rapidly”

        Then allow me to assist Martin:

        (Allegedly) a fridge burst into flames, set fire to some curtains and, in turn, the highly-combustible Polyurethane Insulation on the outside wall, and this fire spread rapidly to other higher levels assisted in part by the ‘chimney effect ‘of the cladding material (which itself used a highly inappropriate combustible, Polyethylene, core). Any questions? Ok, now what are we going to do about all this RIGHT NOW?

        PS: Incidentally Martin please DO check out all those other countries who took note (and the necessary actions) before such a tragedy struck them as there is obviously a systemic failure in the UK for failing to recognise the dangers in spite of ALL THE WARNINGS for many years.

        PPS: Presumably the year this will take is to allow those responsible to retire (early/££) /move elsewhere/become insolvent (or whatever is necessary for them to avoid responsibility)?

        (Note that “ Criminal proceedings *IF THESE HAPPEN* will be conducted by the police “)

        1. red mirror

          here is something that i found interesting on april 14 2016 in docklands a private meeting took place which resulted in (all ) greater london council housing being branded as brownfield with the objective of having it all demolished and smaller very expensive units to replace it this is agenda 21 social cleansing people i am sorry but that is a fact the companys involved are mainly offshore anyone interested in learning more please go to mark windows grenfell tower god bless all thanks someone for your ever helpful contribution.

          1. Someonewhocares

            Checked out that link RM thanks – some serous conspiratorial issues going on there – but it would not totally surprise me (based on how “attractive” London housing stock is now to foreign ‘investors’… but I would also suspect *most* London housing stock is simply just too valuable to flatten/brownfield it (particularly as it would be so visible) But if Council housing is ‘lost’ like that it surely should not be ‘privatised’ either?

            As you have probably noted the new Chair (ex-Judge Martin M-B) has been accused of some ‘cleansing’ too (by trying to move a single Mum 50 miles); So perhaps his clear lack of empathy and his “overly-establishment” approach is really NOT what Grenfell needs right now either?

  27. Sonoo Malkani

    One thing for sure,no matter what every single official inquiry recommends,unless recommendations are IMPLEMENTED and the implementation is ROBUSTLY MONITORED by an Independent body,as soon as possible,we will be leaving ourselves open to facing another monumental tragedy, sooner or later,however horrendous the prospect may seem.

    Passing legislation,however well meaning,is a first step to preventing such nightmare scenarios and the avoidable destruction of the lives of innocent victims,not the end of the road.I am sure we would all want to see this is seen through from start to finish making fire safety in our nation,of the highest standard — one which we can be proud of.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Perhaps you don’t quite understand how this generally works Sonoo; If ‘just’ a few people die it is ‘independently’ (and conveniently) ‘handled’; For total catastrophes like this however all the internal ‘finger-pointing’ starts…. and we will sadly hear excuses/phrases like “lessons have been learned” and “an unfortunate catalogue of errors conspired together to cause this” and various other disingenous garbage. ‘Their’ priority is not to quickly make things safer, it is to obfuscate justice. (If no-one actually goes to jail it is a miscarriage for sure).

      Suitable Regulatory Legislation could be implemented in a few weeks: However first blame will need to be “allocated” (and they will likely avoid this of course). For more relevant details read the NYT link I posted below, notably their “Safety vs. Costs” section….

  28. irritated

    someone who cares you are spot on. This is a deliberate attempt to avoid charging all those you are culpable with Corporate Manslaughter, The enquiry will be focussed on proving that the Contractor is to blame. I can almost guarantee that the jobsworths in the council will escape any kind of prosecution. And, yes, I agree that this lengthy enquiry will take enough time to allow those responsible to retire on tax payers money and get away with this. I have faith that the public will not let this happen and continue to apply pressure to get answers quickly, even if that means mass demonstrations. I saw the debacle that unfolded at the Council meeting yesterday which just proved to me that they have no intention of being transparent and honest about their involvement. People like you and me will be watching carefully and calling them out on this.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Well ‘irritated’ I see Paget-Brown just ‘resigned’ now, so maybe their meeting mess orchestrated/deliberate (Ban Public/Press …and then just let them in – why, just what did they expect??), But yes, which actual Council OFFICERS there are culpable though?

      And I agree with your aims/conclusions: Clearly the more (genuinely) public the process is the better it will be, and certainly the quicker it is all carried out the better, too…

      Plus I already sent some notes to Martin M-B, first of all a Report form the FT yesterday which “named names” plus I printed out and sent him the New York Times report which does something similar, and in much detail:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/24/world/europe/grenfell-tower-london-fire.html?smid=pl-share

      As for culpability any/all Corporate Manslaughter charges – particularly in these days of Social Networking – really should not be affected by claims that Press Articles will ‘prejudice the outcome’ (whatever their Defence Lawyers will claim, or try to…); Many innocent people have died needlessly…. and, in case they seem to forget, WE *will* remind all those responsible indeed….

  29. Sonoo Malkani

    No matter whether one is familiar with what goes on in Councils behind closed doors one thing for sure,the public will NOT be duped and there will be hell to pay if anyone tries to pull the wool over their eyes.

  30. Concerned Harrovian

    I wish the London Mayor would take his job seriously! He is bringing more people into an area that already has trouble with gangs .Early this morning there were four stabbings outside Harrow on the Hill station. The Harrow/Wealdstone corridor is a difficult area to police. The Mayor is proposing one police borough commander to cover Harrow, Barnet and Brent. There will be a saving of two borough commander’s salaries but at what a cost.

    There is also talk of closing South Harrow police station. When will he start to listen to the taxpayers who fund his salary?

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