5 Years On – What Has Grenfell Taught Us?

This week marked the five-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy where 72 people died as a result of a fire which spread rapidly throughout the 20-storey building. Highly combustible cladding attached to the building caused the fire to engulf the structure on 14th June 2017, with the billowing smoke and flames blocking appointed emergency exits for residents. Five years on, and governing bodies are still actively rewriting fire safety legislation to ensure the safety of residents of high-rise buildings across the country.

Fire Safety Compliance

In an initial report following the incident, London Fire Brigade described the Grenfell Tower fire as “of a scale and rapidity that was exceptional; preceded and precipitated by a complete failure of the building’s fire safety measures to perform effectively”.

Initial legislative changes including the ban of combustible materials in 2018 following the incident showed that this was simply not enough to tackle the deep-rooted lack of responsibility shown by property managers and building developers in reference to fire safety compliance.

The Grenfell fire highlighted a ‘culture of non-compliance’, demonstrating that many evacuation procedures and other fire safety measures in high-rise buildings (commercial and residential) are not adequate, and need to be revised and enforced with new legislation to ensure the safety of its occupants.

Fire Safety Act 2021

One of the most significant pieces of legislation which has been implemented as a direct result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy includes amendments to the Fire Safety Order (2005) to now include the Fire Safety Act 2021. These amendments clarify who is accountable for reducing the risk of fire, and ensure that people living in multiple-occupancy residential buildings feel safe in their homes. 

Bringing together multiple pieces of fire safety legislation, the Fire Safety Act 2021 brings additional legislation to the existing Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Order states that any responsible persons such as a building owner or employer must take reasonable steps to: 

  • Reduce the risk of fire on the premises by carrying out a fire risk assessment 
  • Ensure that occupants of the building (for example employees or members of the public) can safely escape if there is a fire

New legislation within the Fire Safety Act 2021 means that property managers and housing associations are now more responsible than ever before to conduct fire risk assessments to ensure the safety of their residents. 

Fire Safety and Building Development

As a result of legislative amendments in the Fire Safety Order and following pressure from government groups, in January 2022 the housing secretary Michael Gove announced plans to get building developers to fix ‘life critical fire safety defects’ in houses which have been built in the last 30 years. This attempt to undo the culture of corner-cutting by property developers is the beginning of a crackdown on more forceful implementation of fire safety measures in buildings across the UK.

As an experienced fire safety company, FireCare Security and Electrical have seen the changes to the building development industry in the last 5 years, and appreciate that although there have been significant governmental changes, there is always more to be done to prevent an incident like the Grenfell Tower fire from happening again.

By following fire safety regulations and doing everything you can to mitigate the risk of fire by removing or reducing fire safety hazards, commercial property managers, employers and housing associations can rest assured that they are better protected from fire.

About FireCare Security and Electrical

At FireCare, we provide pragmatic, comprehensive fire safety services to businesses throughout Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey and London.  We will keep you compliant, without causing you inconvenience. To arrange a site survey and book your fire risk assessment, complete our contact form, or email info@firecareandsecurity.co.uk