Grenfell Tower failed at least two fire safety inspections in the months before a blaze tore through it, but the organisation managing the building did not act on either of the warnings, a number of unpublished documents have reportedly revealed.
A “fire deficiency notice” from the then London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), delivered eight months before the fire, and a separate independent Fire Risk Assessment, dated June 2016, both identified multiple failures, ITV News reported.
Each warning called on the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) to move quickly, with the planning authority stipulating that action must be taken by May 2017, one month before the fire tore through it.
The report is the first to highlight official warnings, although it emerged in the fire’s immediate aftermath that residents had been telling the council and the building’s management the high-rise was unsafe for years.
Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye died in the tower, called the documents a “smoking gun” and reiterated his call for for individuals to be held responsible for the disaster.
Scotland Yard is considering whether offences including corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and breaches of the Health and Safety Act have been committed.
It said in July it had conducted three interviews under caution as part of its investigation, but no arrests relating to the fire – aside from those on suspicion of fraud – had been made.
The notice from the LFEPA found problems with fire doors, including some that did not fit or close properly and inadequate precautions to stop fire and smoke from spreading
Meanwhile, the inspection report by an independent assessor listed 43 “high risk” safety issues, as well as problems with doors and air vents. A number of residents of Grenfell Tower attempted to flee the flames, only to succumb to toxic black smoke that filled the tower block’s single staircase.
Experts told a public inquiry into the disaster in June there wa a “culture of non-compliance” at Grenfell Tower and a system for extracting smoke from lobby areas on each floor did not work. Fire doors are a key part of containing a fire.
The KCTMO was dissolved following the fire, but the owner of Grenfell Tower, Kensington and Chelsea council said in a statement: “This will be a matter for the public inquiry, and to comment further could risk prejudicing the ongoing police investigation. We do not want to do or say anything that could obstruct the course of justice, because justice is what our residents want the most.
“Our first thoughts and our last thoughts will always be with those that lost their lives in the Grenfell Tragedy. We have been clear that we want the whole unvarnished truth and we will do all we can to assist, no matter what the consequences are for the council.”
It emerged in March the doors that built to last 30 minutes failed in 15 minutes during the fire. Tests on a range of fire doors by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on the market have since found five different brands are unsafe.
Mr Lammy said in statement posted on Twitter: “The uncovering of official warnings from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority about fire risks at Grenfell are a smoking gun. The deadline date of the work they were meant to complete was May 2017, one month before the fatal fire.”
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