Expert witness on Grenfell Fire: Cladding on Grenfell Tower was “a major hazard”
30 June 2018
The testimony of Dr. Barbara Lane, a fire safety specialist and expert witness to the inquiry on Grenfell Tower, presented a report on the tower’s construction in relation to the relevant fire safety requirements. Officially, 72 people died as a result of the inferno at the West London tower block on June 14, 2017, which was able to spread rapidly due to numerous safety failings.
Lane used photographs and videos from the night of the fire to show how quickly the fire spread around the outside of the building due to the combustible cladding that had been fitted to improve its appearance in a “refurbishment to prettify its outside appearance.” Lane also used photos her team had taken since the fire to show many examples of noncompliant materials and construction.
Lane identified a “culture of noncompliance” that resulted in the blaze and listed many failures to meet building regulations at Grenfell Tower, the majority of which were the result of changes made since it was originally designed and built between 1967 and 1974.
She began her presentation to the inquiry by describing Grenfell Tower as it was first built. While many of its features were not compliant with building regulations now in use, it was largely composed of materials that were non-combustible, such as concrete.
Building regulations required the use of materials and safety features in a way that ensured a fire in one flat would not spread to others, she said. This “compartmentation” is the basis of the “stay put” and “defend in place” policies employed by the London Fire Brigade during the fire. These regulatory measures have been in place since the 1960s, she explained,…