Grenfell fire could lead to 'cultural change' of safer buildings

Grenfell Fire

Lessons learned from the Grenfell tower fire may lead to a worldwide legacy of improved fire safety.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Grenfell tower fire could create a worldwide legacy of safer buildings, the Chair of the fire safety review has told talkRADIO.

Dame Judith Hackitt revealed flammable cladding exists in numerous countries, which are worried about a similar tragedy occurring.

She said: "I think there's a real opportunity here to bring about a culture change in construction that will go far beyond the UK and it's needed because this is a problem in many different places."

72 people died when a fire ripped through Grenfell tower in London in June 2017.

Dame Judith has recently returned from Australia and added: "They have had fires in buildings with aluminium cladding systems on them but have been fortunate so far in that there have not been any deaths."

Her government-commissioned fire safety review post-Grenfell called for a "culture change" to stop builders cutting corners to save money.

She told talkRADIO: "I don't really care whether they want to or not. They've got to. That's what they should be doing, morally and legally."

This shift will speed up once Brexit has taken place and tougher penalties for malpractice are introduced, she believes, and could be achieved in "two or three years".

"Many of the policy issues that need to be addressed for the UK have not had the attention or the air-time that they should have had", she added.

Approximately 370 high-rise buildings still have dangerous ACM cladding on them that doesn't meet safety standards.

Tests are due to begin shortly on zinc cladding that hangs on hundreds of others amid fears it could be equally flammable.

Results are expected in the summer.  

Arguments over who must pay for flammable cladding to be removed means thousands of residents are still living in fear their building is not safe nearly two years after the Grenfell disaster.

Dame Judith Hackitt said: "Is it acceptable that it has taken this long? Not really."

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