Grenfell Report: Fire Service Needs to Be Proactive in Assessing Risks

Grenfell Tower Fire
Photo by Natalie Oxford

A public report on the devastating 2017 Grenfell Tower Fire in London, England, underscores the need for fire service leaders to better engage with emerging threats that put firefighters and the civilians they serve in harm’s way, says one fire service expert.

The 28-page report by Prof. José L. Torero, which can be downloaded here (PDF), emphasize the dangers posed by façade systems on high-rise buildings but also calls attention the problem of risk assessment on the part of the London Fire Brigade.

It noted that, given the recent history of large façade fires, the evolution of the Grenfell Tower Fire was foreseeable.

From the report:

It is only the fire brigade inspector, through their training, that is capable of defining what is the information that needs to be gathered, how to obtain it and how to use it in a Risk Assessment. Furthermore, it is also incumbent on the fire brigade inspector to be capable to identify issues that, if not rectified, would result in a less than satisfactory outcome.

Given that the evolution of the Grenfell Tower fire was a foreseeable event, that there was awareness in the London Fire Brigade of such events and that the link between these fires and specific types of products was known, a competent inspection would have identified the potential for a large external fire.

“This report is a clarion call to action for fire service leadership to engage in a much more proactive role in building fire safety and to translate the knowledge gained into tangible response protocols,” Fire Engineering Technical Editor Glenn Corbett editor remarked. “It’s important for senior members of the fire service leaders to see this as a landmark moment in time to provide firefighters and line officers with the knowledge and capability to deal with the complex fire environment they work in, most notably high-rises and similar technically challenging structures.”

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