#Grenfell ‘improvement’: just ONE escape staircase for 24 floors #LondonFire

Thanks to this blog’s network of readers, the SKWAWKBOX has received information about the recent refurbishment to Grenfell Tower – shocking information that shows how ‘improvements’ to the building during its 2016 refurbishment may have contributed to the death and injury toll in the block of flats when it caught fire at around one this morning.

Twitter user Mark Ashley posted the floor-plan of the ill-fated tower today. That diagram showed what he alleges was termed an ‘improved high-density layout’ – with only a single, central stairwell that residents could use to escape the building in an emergency:


The enlarged image of the floorplan, which shows a cross-section of the layout of each floor, does indeed appear to show just a single staircase in the middle of the building:

grenfell floorplan

Ashley also posted an excerpt from the building management company’s annual report in which it commends its own performance in various areas, including,

kctmo commend.png

Attempts to visit the architects’ website now meet only a ‘forbidden’ notice:

studioe 1.png

However, an archive of the site shows that the company was, at least recently, proud of its refurbishment of the block:

studioe 2.png

Clearly, the effect of there being only a single staircase and of the refurbishment as a whole on the development of events this morning and on the toll in deaths, injuries, lost homes and possessions will only be known after the completion of a full investigation.

However, the details available thanks to an enterprising social media user and the efforts of SKWAWKBOX readers to bring the information to this blog’s attention, are more than enough to raise serious questions that must be answered – and which will cause grave concern to those living in similar blocks and the people who care about them.

Especially those living in ‘improved, high-density’ accommodation and in areas where Tory cuts have damaged the fire-services’ speed and scale of response.

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  1. I’m being attacked on Twitter for highlighting the post event activities of certain organisations in the frame, e.g. Rydon Group, the housing company who insist that their recent refurbishment work at Grenfell Tower met all regulations.

    Even while the building is still burning, they’ve been frantically removing evidence from their website.

    Then there’s the Tory Chair of Kensington and Chelsea Council’s Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee, Sam Mackover, who repeatedly oversaw the sweeping under the carpet of Grenfell Tower residents’ fire safety concerns.

    Yet it’s me being accused of “bullying and blaming”.

    1. Pay no heed to them, Paul, and carry on pointing of the collective deficiencies of these incompetents. I scratch my head in bewilderment at the attitude of some people. There’s a dozen or more people dead and we want…No, DEMAND the facts.

      You’re actually doing everyone a service, not just the victims. Divs what try to make out it’s somehow ‘bullying’ are just that – divs.

  2. I am concerned about what will happen to the residents of Grenfell Tower now. Too many London councils have been happy to sell off social housing to property developers who then clear the site to build luxury properties. There have been a number of estate action groups who have fought these social cleansing evictions.
    Will Kensington & Chelsea’s Tory council guarantee that all residents will be re-housed in the borough and not ‘deported’ out of London?


  4. where was Kensington health & safety team – every new or refurbished building MUST hold a safety check & run a fire alarm before the sign off can be completed …

  5. All planning documentation is listed on the Kensington and Chelsea planning portal, to include Design Statements

  6. 24 storeys × 16 bedrooms/storey = 384 bedrooms. Not all of those would have been occupied, yet some would have had couples. So a rough, ‘ballpark’ figure is that Grenfell Tower was home to about 300 people. Can someone confirm and refine this figure?
        Then what I’d like to know is how many of those few hundred residents are already known to have survived. I’m sure that the number of known survivors is a lot less than the number of predisaster Grenfell Tower residents minus the current* official death toll of 30. (*As of Friday 16th, 19:28 via BBC; “At least 30 people confirmed dead in Wednesday’s blaze”.)

    1. “Can someone confirm and refine this figure?”

      I’ve been drilling to refine these figures and I’m now almost certain that there were 227 bedrooms. The floorplan in this article is of the 3rd floor above ground (i.e. the 4th storey, aka. “Walkway +1 level”) and, as far as I can tell, was the only floor to have had as many as 16 bedrooms, and was apparently just below where the fire started. The other repurposed storey had 11 bedrooms and was also below the blaze, probably unburnt even, but nonetheless nolonger safely inhabitable. The top 20 storeys had 10 bedrooms each and all of those storeys were devastated by the blaze. So rather than the 1.7× overestimation of 24×16, it was actually 20×10 + 16 + 11 = 227.
          However, despite there only being about 60% of my original estimate of bedrooms, it is widely believed by locals that there were likely to have been 400–600 people in that building, which is an average (mean) of 1.7–2.7 people per bedroom and seems like a wild mistake, but given that there is a serious issue of poverty regarding Grenfell, I can kind of comprehend how it’s possible to have had an average of about 2 people per bedroom.
          So I’m a bit clearer on how many people were likely to have been in Grenfell Tower at the time of the fire, and in the meantime, this deeply moving video from those displaced has been published – and it shows a poster that states that the number of survivors known to be in hospitals and hostels is 108. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who recognises that some simple arithmetic reveals a sickening discrepancy! If there were 600 people in the building and only 108 survived then that is a death toll as high as 492. 😧
          The video counts out a death toll of “160 plus”, which is the number of dead bodies that locals believe have been seen or placed in a morgue. They don’t need to be formally identified to tell that they’re nolonger alive – it’s so frustrating that authorities are taking so long to declare an official death toll that remotely comes close to reflecting the true scale of the loss of innocent life, here. 160 is very much a lower-bound because the bodies are there. Sadly, there will have been many more deaths than the number of bodies that remain, because many people would have been incinerated beyond recognition.
          The BBC claims impartiality, claims to be unbiased, yet has quoted lower-bound figures of only double digits for days after it became clear that the death toll is unquestionably a triple-digit figure. It became clear to firefighters on Wednesday morning that it was a triple-digit figure, and the BBC was told a figure of 200 at latest on Friday morning because it was adamantly stated by Saskilla on live television that morning, but the BBC reporter tried to subvert the claim. And still now the BBC is reporting lower-bound figures without the corresponding upper-bound figures!! No, if you want to cut the bias then you don’t just quote one bound of a range, you quote the entire range; if you want to cut the bias then you don’t just quote the lower-bound, you quote both the lower-bound and the upper-bound. And you do your best to refine both bounds of the range to try to pinpoint the truth.
          The death toll of the Grenfell Tower fire is 160–490.

      1. Well stated. I am beginning to accept that the landlord had no list of residents, perhaps only the principal lessee. Given the lax state of British regulations, there is probably nothing requiring a landlord to list his tenants.

        The council and benefits agencies will have more complete records. A week has passed — more than enough time to compile them.

        This tragedy is revealing the amateurish and chaotic nature of London’s bureaucracy, if nothing else.

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