06:37 GMT +326 June 2017
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    Firefighters rest as they take a break in battling a massive fire that raged in a high-rise apartment building in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

    London Tower Block Blaze: 'Endemic' Fire Risk in Housing Stock Across UK

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    Campaigners says there is an "endemic fire safety problem" in the type of housing stock at the center of the catastrophic fire in London, when fire ripped through and gutted a tower block within minutes, killing at least 17, with many hundreds still unaccounted for.

    The fire, in Grenfell Tower in west London, spread through the 24-storey tower block within an hour, spreading rapidly through the 120 apartments so fact that many were unable to escape. Hundreds of firefighters struggled to tackle the fire as it ripped through the block, fanned by winds. 

    There are now calls for a public inquiry into the design and use of materials in such buildings after it emerged that the refurbishment work completed in 2016 satisfied all building control and safety regulations.

    "I regularly sit in meetings with fire safety professionals, and their fury and frustration at the inaction of local councils and social landlords is palpable. We have been warning about the risks of a fire like this for years," said Hannah Mansell, who chairs the Passive Fire Protection Forum.

    "There is an endemic fire safety problem in this type of housing stock," she said.

    However, the contractor that carried out the refurbishment of the building said that all the works conformed to current safety and regulatory conditions.

    "Rydon completed a refurbishment of the building in the summer of 2016 for Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO) on behalf of the Council, which met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards," the company said in a statement.

    Residents of Grenfell Tower had been complaining about poor fire safety for years, citing no sprinkler system no common fire alarm.

    ​"We are aware that concerns have been raised historically by residents. We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations," KCTMO said.

    Public Inquiry

    It follows another similar fire, 2009, in Lakanal House, south London, which resulted in the local authority being fined US$344,000 plus costs. Residents has criticized the layout of the flats, which did not provide easy egress in case of an emergency. The flats also lacked a central fire alarm system, which was not required by virtue of the current guidance.

    ​"I am sure after this incident a public inquiry of the sort we did not have after the Lakanal fire should be considered. The Lakanal House report wasn't a public inquiry; it was a coroner's court. However, something like this will have to force people to come out and be challenged," said Ronnie King, of the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety & Rescue Group and Vice Chairman of the National Fire Sprinkler Network.

    Grenfell Tower fire
    © Sputnik/ Jenny McCall
    Grenfell Tower fire

    "One thing that has to come out of this is that regulations have to be reviewed — they cannot ignore this now," he said.

    Related:

    Death Toll in London Grenfell Tower Fire Rises to 17
    London Block of Flats Fire Death Toll Increases to 12 - Police
    'Screams for Help' as Grave Concerns Grow Over Fire Safety at London Tower Block
    London Medics Treat 74 #GrenfellTower Block Fire Victims, 20 in Critical Care
    London Grenfell Tower Fire Kills Six, Death Toll Expected to Climb
    London Firefighters Combing Grenfell Tower for People Trapped Inside After Fire
    Tags:
    Fire alarm, tower, emergency, fire, London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade, London Metropolitan Police, Kensington, Chelsea, United Kingdom, London
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