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
Twin ParksGrenfell
The Bronx, New YorkKensington & Chelsea, Lonon
19 stories24 stories
Affordable HousingSocial Housing
Started by smart heaterStarted 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 workingFire lifts missing and over-ride failed
Fire spread over 2 floors – 2nd and 3rd floorFire started floor 4, flames spread up external facade and entered builing at multiple points.
Alarms went off frequently and were often ignoredNo alarm
No sprinkers, scissored staircaseNo 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 floorThe higher up you were the more likely you were to die
Firefighters ran out of airFirefighters struggled to reach upper floors
Windows smashed by residents attempted to get air inWindows smashed by heat of fire allowing fire to enter.
Residents had raised complaints about heat and door closersResidents voices were silenced for years prior to the fire.
What we know…


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.

And finally

My thoughts with all the families, community and first responders. And to the Grenfell community.

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