The Bronx fire, Grenfell and Cladding
As the first pictures and tweets about the Bronx fire surfaced yesterday, my heart sank. And it appears as if there are many sobering similiarities to Grenfell.
The following document provides excellent background on the building.
A comparison: Grenfell and the Bronx Fire
Based on various media reports, the table below begins to summarise what we are learning.
Twin Park, Bronx Fire
|Grenfell Tower, London Fire|
|The Bronx, New York||Kensington & Chelsea, Lonon|
|19 stories||24 stories|
|Affordable Housing||Social Housing|
|Started by smart heater||Started by small electric fire in frige/freezer|
|19 deaths confirmed (9 Children) |
several in hospital with life threathening injuries
|72 deaths (18 chilren)|
|Lifts not working||Fire lifts missing and over-ride failed|
|Fire spread over 2 floors – 2nd and 3rd floor||Fire started floor 4, flames spread up external facade and entered builing at multiple points.|
|Alarms went off frequently and were often ignored||No alarm|
|No sprinkers, scissored staircase||No sprinkers, single staircase|
|Door closers failed leading to entire building being engulfed in thick smoke.||Door closers failed leading to rapid spread of fire and smoke|
|Bodies found on almost every floor||The higher up you were the more likely you were to die|
|Firefighters ran out of air||Firefighters struggled to reach upper floors|
|Windows smashed by residents attempted to get air in||Windows smashed by heat of fire allowing fire to enter.|
|Residents had raised complaints about heat and door closers||Residents voices were silenced for years prior to the fire.|
I haven’t been able to access this directly but there are reports of complaints about doors, ventilation, wiring and heat. All of which are known to have contributed. We need to learn to listen to complaints as signals of broader systemic failures. It’s important we understand how and where voices were silenced, whether unintentional or not.
The UK Building Safety Crisis
As we debate the UK’s new governments proposals to remediating builings, let’s not forget the issue is not just the cladding.
Systemic v Piecemeal approaches
Ultimately, we need to understand that a piecemeal approach such as only tackling the cladding is insufficient. The Bronk fire is a very sobering reminder as the Gove cladding remediation announcement dominates the news. Piecemeal approaches cost lives.
My thoughts with all the families, community and first responders. And to the Grenfell community.