Did Kensington Council BURY fire risk assessment on advice of man who took £250K for writing it?

Safety regulations and procedures were not followed at Grenfell Tower. As a result, when a fire broke out in one of the flats, the whole building went up in flames like a giant matchstick.

It seems Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council hired a fire risk assessor to check Grenfell Tower on the basis that he could fight the London Fire Brigade if firefighters demanded extra safety requirements – or simply called for existing requirements to be fulfilled.

Here’s the gist, from The Independent:

A fire risk assessor who worked on Grenfell Tower reportedly suggested Kensington and Chelsea council could withhold a report detailing the building’s safety failings from the London Fire Brigade.

Fire consultant Carl Stokes was paid £244,318 over seven years as fire risk assessor for Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), according to documents seen by Inside Housing.

And ​Mr Stokes advised the organisation that they did not have to disclose safety risks and risk being obliged to deploy expensive “additional fire safety measures”, the Mail on Sunday reported.

A Fire Risk Assessment for Grenfell Tower submitted by Mr Stokes to KCTMO in November 2012 suggested burying the report because the London Fire Brigade “have the power to undertake an audit of the fire risk assessment to determine if it is suitable and sufficient or not.”

Mr Stokes was recommended to KCTMO directors by housing official Janice Wray as “willing to challenge the fire brigade on our behalf if he considered their [safety] requirements to be excessive.”

(Source: Grenfell fire risk assessor who was paid £250k for his work urged council to bury his fire risk report)

The article goes on to list some of the safety failings in Grenfell Tower in 2012, including failure to maintain or inspect escape staircases, fire extinguishers and emergency escape lighting.

Now, even if the council did bury this report, it must have been seen by a certain number of people, and a certain number of them would have understood its significance.

So where were the whistleblowers?

Here’s your answer:

https://twitter.com/Wirral_In_It/status/881762838133571586

That’s right – whistleblowers get sacked.

https://twitter.com/Wirral_In_It/status/881799653037047808

https://twitter.com/Wirral_In_It/status/881763800340467717

https://twitter.com/chooch051/status/881793273546887168

You may also be aware that the spark that lit up Grenfell Tower like a matchstick was said to have been a fire in a fridge-freezer. The London Fire Brigade – again – has been warning about the frequency of these fires since 2010 at least:

We are calling for fridge freezer manufacturers to act now to make their products safer.

More than one fridge freezer fire a week

Despite seven deaths and 71 serious injuries in London since 2010, we believe most manufacturers are still dragging their heels on making fire safety improvements.

There is, on average, one fridge freezer fire a week in the capital and we have been lobbying the industry to make their fridges and freezers more fire resistant for the last three and a half years.

What’s the problem with them?

Fridges and freezers are of particular concern to us because they contain large amounts of plastic and highly flammable insulation, which, if ignited, can cause large, rapidly developing  fires that spread quickly, giving off highly toxic gases.

The doors and side panels of most fridges and freezers are usually covered in metal but we are concerned that  many still use a flammable plastic backing which offers very little protection against the highly flammable insulation catching alight  if a fire starts.

What we want to see happen

We are calling on the industry to ensure the backs of fridge freezers are made of non combustible or fire retardant materials as standard.

(Source: Fridge freezer delay putting lives at risk)

A friend of This Writer made an excellent point about this. She wrote:

“London Fire brigade warned of hazards of plastic-backed freezers 2010, reminded of it 2015, regular cause of fires. No action on the part of manufacturers (I enquired today how I could know which was metal backed, which plastic backed – and was told ‘no info provided’.)

“Regulation is supposed to be there to protect us from hazards we don’t know about, the hazard was well-established, no regulation introduced.

Grenfell burns.

So the council failed to enforce regulations.

And fridge/freezer manufacturers failed to act on the safety recommendations of the fire and rescue service.

And now the survivors are being failed by the authorities put in place to help them get back on their feet, according to David Lammy MP (whose own conduct in this matter has been exemplary):

There is a simple reason why the residents of Grenfell were treated so abominably by those whose only job was to protect them. It is the same reason the survivors continue to be treated with contempt:

They are not rich.

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4 thoughts on “Did Kensington Council BURY fire risk assessment on advice of man who took £250K for writing it?

  1. Dez

    When an industry or organisation eg Freezers needs to do something that saves lives or prevents disasters then their lobby industry swings into action to defend doing absolutely nothing….until the body count and the adverse publicity gets to large to argue against. Paying a fire risk assessor a quarter of a million over 7 years sounds very large on face value. However I’m sure a forensic audit nvestigation was carried out having paid those large sums for reports that may have been ignored or worse shelved. But to keep paying large consultant fees every year sounds ludicrous if you are just filing the results and not acting upon them. What on earth would a consultant want to be paid such large sums of money knowing every year nothing had been acted upon in his or her report. No matter how hungry I was , my own and many others in life saving business, would have a problem in continuing to advise or act as a consultant for a client who did diddly squat in following out ones life saving recommendations or being asked to front and vigoursly defend against the authorities in not having to carry the recommendations out. A client can do what he likes with a report, having commissioned and paid for it. However this was public money and if the contents made adverse reading and it was continually ignored or not acted upon or worst withheld a red line has been crossed.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      They paid the fire risk assessor a ONE-OFF payment of a quarter of a million pounds, Dez – it wasn’t over seven years.
      A red line was certainly crossed, if the allegation is true.

  2. rockingbass

    My question exactly about fridge’s with the change in design from a radiator at the back to a soft plastic.back which hides plastic pipes…also remember that the cooling liquid is now highly flammable due to the scare stories of CO2 the insulation used is flammable too and most now have started to use plastic outer casings……oh and have you heard the one about electric meters going up in flames?..

    1. wildswimmerpete

      The refrigerant used in modern fridges and freezers is R600a: Butane. Should the integrity of the cooling system be compromised the butane could escape to form an air-explosive mixture that only needs a spark to ignite. Fluorocarbon refrigerants (Freons) were abandoned because they deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.

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