London Fire Fire Saftey comments

Yeap - No issues Ken. There’s so much flying around, and a lot of it will be “fake news.”

I have an interesting commentary on who the management board are, that apparently decided against sprinklers, but is fairly inflammatory and political so won’t post it.

An interesting report from the UK from 2014 giving the issues of combustible cladding and some previous examples. There are more than I was aware of in the UK alone.
One involved fire spread up the cavity which didn’t have any fire blocks at each floor level and the cavity was rubberised painted concrete and fire retardant cladding. The repair work included installing these. This is interesting because it is not unknown here not to have fire blocks due to the flashing, cavity draining and poor installation issues. Bricks are particularly prone to this problem.
One case I was told by the engineer that it wasn’t required as the cavity was common property so no floor to floor separation was required as it was under one title… This ignores the lack of firecell separation between apartments that results as it is no different than a a riser shaft spanning multiple floors/ firecells

Determination 04/05 was Quay Park medical centre as I recall, an even more dodgy design . The apartment design in determination 2003/03 is pretty suspect as well…
The Bankside case was 2005-109.
I have the property file from Council if anyone wants to look at it - it is very thin to say the least. The building is currently used as serviced apartments/ hotel.
The determination was shameful, with the conclusion that that design was rubbish, should never had a consent but it was to hard to enforce the law so let it go.
The NZ Herald article on in 10-09-2005 is no longer online on the Herald, however the Internet never forgets and it says:

Mr Gardiner’s scathing 24-page report dubbed “inadequate” the information supplied to the council for the Waldorf’s building consent. . Mr Gardiner’s scathing 24-page report dubbed “inadequate” the information supplied to the council for the Waldorf’s building consent. So poor was the documentation that the building should never have been built, he ruled.


Gary Talbot, fire safety integration manager for the NZ Fire Service in Wellington, said the situation over the Waldorf was difficult. “What are you going to do? Bulldoze an 18-level building in the centre of Auckland?” he asked. “The determination had to come up with an alternative to that.”

Actually, yes, that was the answer, or otherwise make it comply, not say it doesn’t comply, but it is to politically embarrassing to the BCA at the time to make it so.

With some of the poor designs I have seen, such as using B-risk for stairs and other spaces where it is not suitable (and it gives optimistic results - and despite that by the sparse calculations provided it still fails - but it had a PS1 and PS2 and a consent). There is also often a complete lack of documentation and calculations on file to justify the design unless specifically asked for by the Council processing officer, making it impossible to check after the consent for alterations or any other purpose, or confirm the assumptions behind the design. An oversight or not?
Do we want to be repeating these lessons from these determinations about poor design and the downstream results again in a few years time, although I guess the Bankside lesson was that you can get away with it if you are lucky.

it was a mess then and still is…the building should never be occupied.

I am going through the consultation on fire safety proposals. Design Scenario FO is a complete disaster and is based on EN 12101-6. The standard that Grenfell Tower used for corridor pressurisation. Setting that aspect aside the arbitrary requirements in that design scenario are impossible to achieve and are highly unusual which would lead to the systems not being able to be commissioned. I am finishing up my strongly worded submission in relation to this.

An interesting presentation from the recent 2017 4th International Tall Building Fire Safety Conference. Douglas Evans catalogs all the recent tall building facade fires. Sometimes the number of fatalities are included.

Another article explaining the defend in place rationale.

Has anyone ever used this little gem from C/ASx/4.15.4.b) Exceptions to Cavity Barriers

From TV pictures of Grenfell it looks like a cavity was also formed between the original (concrete looking) external wall and the new cladding.

Peter, 4.15.4 refers to underfloor cavities between the floor over the ground. It does not apply to wall cavities.

No. Read C/ASx/4.15.4 in conjunction with 4.15.3 which is titled: Cavity barriers in walls and floors.
4.15.4.a) refers to underfloors. 4.15.4.b) is for walls.

Peter you are correct - I did not read your posting properly.
This raises the question as to fire spread within an external wall cavity created between a non combustible material and a compliant over cladding. This does not appear to be the case with Grenfell.
The BRANZ fire scientists will probably have interesting opinions on this.
I’m not sure about this but flame propagation through a non combustible wall cavity is probably a function of: cavity height, depth (and possibly width), and cavity material thermal properties. Someone should look at it.

I agree that this should be looked at. Also consideration should be given to C/ASx 4.15.4 © which allows a Group Number 2 material for encapsulating a wall system. Creating a vertical shaft within a wall system clad with a combustible material without a cavity barrier does not seem like a good idea either.

For those who haven’t seen it - there is a Panorama documentary at

some good interviews and footage - it is powerful stuff.
Should make you think twice if you are asked to cut some corners to save a developer some money but who takes no risk.
Of interest is the smoke filled stairs and corridors, remote from the fire. I am sure it would pass C/VM2 though.and i have seen (shorter) single stair apartment buildings with a not dissimilar layout, albeit with sprinklers and (I hope) non flammable cladding. The modelling says that the stairs should have been clear.
I suspect there will be multiple causes of failure, and if any one thing had been different the outcome could have been different. For example, if it had been in daytime, people would have been awake or out. It goes to show the value of luck…

Article showing the location that people died in the building.

I think that SFPE needs to set up a two-day seminar to work through all the issues around cladding & cladding systems, in light of the Grenfell Tower fire and systems testing (NFPA 285; BS 8414 and the new AS 5113)
Are we doing ourselves a disservice by only relying on small-scale testing results?

Please note that the NFPA has published a proposed TIA (Tentative Interim Arrangement) with regard to NFPA 285. Refer to NFPA Newsletter November 2017: