Lessons Learned from London’s Grenfell Towers Fire

Just a few short weeks ago, I wrote in Government Regulations Add Value:

Government regulations have their genesis in addressing previously unknown shortcomings or problems.

The recent Grenfell Towers fire in London where some 73 people are believed to have perished is blamed on builders and regulators putting cost over safety.

The night of the fire, I saw a tweet from Stanley Roberts of KRON TV 4 at about 10:30 p.m. PDT depicting the entire tower in flames. He knew the toll would be high as did I. Here are a couple of article excerpts from a New York Times article:

“Business-friendly governments in Britain — first under Labor and then under the Conservatives — campaigned to pare back regulations. A 2005 law known as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order ended a requirement for government inspectors to certify that buildings had met fire codes, and shifted instead to a system of self-policing. Governments adopted slogans calling for the elimination of at least one regulation for each new one that was imposed, and the authorities in charge of fire safety took this to heart [emphasis added]


Another subcontractor, Omnis Exteriors, said on Friday that it had not been told that the flammable Reynobond cladding was going to be combined with flammable interior insulation. That was a problem, the firm said in a statement, adding that the cladding “should only be used in conjunction with a noncombustible material.”

Note: the current executive branch of our government imposed an executive order calling for the elimination of 2 regulations for every new regulation enacted by Congress. I question the wisdom of this in my earlier blog post (mentioned above) as well as this one.

Grenfell Towers looked like a building from a disaster movie set. It was hard to believe how this fully-involved, towering inferno came to be. I now understand why. The cladding was like wrapping the tower in kindling with someone lighting a match. The “match” in this story was a refrigerator that caught fire in one of the units.

This tragedy was avoidable had different, more expensive, flame-resistant cladding been used.

The next time your business decides to skirt regulations, I hope someone asks what the downside will be before taking action.

Thought for week:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom

What do you think? I welcome your comments! Dave Gardner

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Jack Josey · June 27, 2017 at 8:42 pm

Great post, Dave. There are more important things than money.

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