Tragic fire a grim reminder of our duty
The fire that engulfed a 24-story public housing community in London on June 14, 2017, killing 80 people at last count, should be a reminder to all in the housing management business of the importance of making life safety a top priority. Early news reports concerning the fire at Grenfell Tower point to shoddy – perhaps even criminal – execution in the construction, renovation, and maintenance of the building.
Based on the initial reporting, Roger Lewis, a renowned architect and planner, Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and a Fellow in the Academy of Housing and Cities, believes four factors may have contributed to the fire: 1) the combustibility of the exterior cladding on the building that allowed the fire to quickly spread vertically; 2) the lack of a functioning fire sprinkler system; 3) the lack of a functioning fire detection and alarm system; and 4) the lack of a second, fire-rated stairway to provide an alternative means of exiting from the building.
Time will tell who shoulders the most blame for this tragedy, but if Professor Lewis’s analysis is correct, it sure looks like there will be plenty of blame to go around..