London fire: Fire safety risk inspections pointless, says expert

The system to assess fire safety of high-rise buildings in the UK is “pointless”, a leading expert claims. Fire risk assessments (FRAs) carried out by councils does not consider factors such as external cladding, inspections of which are under way.  It is feared cladding helped spread a blaze that killed at least 79 people at Grenfell Tower, which was not deemed a high-risk during inspections in 2016. Prof Arnold Dix said the FRA system was simply a “box-ticking exercise”. Prof Dix, an independent disaster investigator who looked into the Lakanal House fire, in Camberwell, which saw six people killed in 2009, said the fact Grenfell Tower burnt so fast despite being deemed only a medium risk showed FRAs did not work. Councils across the country are carrying out FRAs following the tower block fire.  London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has written to all housing providers urging them to carry out FRAs.  But Prof Dix said this was “pointless” as the same checking system had failed twice – in Lakanal and Grenfell.  He said FRAs did not look inside individual properties and did not need to see how the building was originally designed to evacuate people, meaning it was “like having a full health check and only checking the tonsils”.

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