The Grenfell Tower conflagration in West London on the night of 14 June 2017 when 72 men, women and children perished amid the fire and smoke of the 24-floor apartment tower has sadly entered the lexicon of global fire disasters.
Terrible images of Grenfell Tower with flames right up its entire height clearly demonstrated that in the 21st Century, and with the availability of modern proven fire-protection measures, such a huge and tragic loss of life can still happen.
On that fateful night, hundreds of London Fire Brigade (LFB) firefighters faced an unprecedented catastrophe as they tackled the rapidly spreading fire, primarily due to flammable external cladding panels installed during a recent refurbishment of the tower. Along with emergency fire-control operators taking hundreds of distressing 999 calls, the collective LFB response saw outstanding levels of courage, professionalism and dedication in effecting the rescue of many trapped families amid horrific levels of fire and smoke, and dangerous conditions.
The formal Public Enquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire and its circumstances finally began its work on 20 May 2018, and the likelihood is that it will sit and take evidence for some months to come.
In the meantime, amid much attention circulating since the Grenfell Tower disaster, a seminar entitled After Grenfell was staged on 17 July 2018 at the Royal Air Force Club in central London.
Sponsored jointly by Claremont Consulting and MDM Publishing, the seminar was attended by delegates from fire engineering, fire consultancies, fire safety industry manufacturers and installers, business, commerce and industry, professional and accrediting associations, FRSs and other blue-light services.
Six speakers gave presentations and their views, dealing with topics that each related to fire-safety measures and procedures in the modern world, most of which in some way related to the Grenfell tragedy.
The seminar was chaired by former Chief Fire Officer Neil Wallington, a Past International President of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE), author and Consultant Editor of Gulf Fire magazine.
The six seminar speakers and their topics were:
Keynote address: A View on the Hackett Report into Building Regulations and Fire Safety
Brian Robinson, CBE QFSM OStJ FIFireE
Former Commissioner and Chief Executive of the London Fire Brigade, President of the Fire Sector Federation (FSF)
Lessons from the Grenfell Tower Fire – the Missed Opportunities
Stewart Kidd, MA MSc FIFireE FIFSM FSyI FSA(Scot) CPP, Former Secretary General, British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA)
The Importance of Fire Engineering Qualifications & Accreditations
Gary Daniels, BSc (Hons) MPhil CEng AIFireE PMSFPE, Board Member of The Institution of Fire Engineers Associate Director, Hoare Lee
Benefits of Blue Light Collaboration: The Hampshire Experience
Rob Cole, Head of Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service Community Safety
Understanding the Implications of Framing and Blame Gaming in Grenfell
Professor Lee Miles, PhD, Professor of Crisis and Disaster Management, Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre (BUDMC)
An Industry View of Advanced Fire Safety Technology
Dr Carl Hunter, BA (Dunelm) Hon. DSc FRINA AFNI MRAes, CEO and Managing Director, Coltraco Ultrasonics
The seminar concluded with a lively open forum when a number of current issues were debated including central and local government activity affecting FRSs; fire-safety responsibilities; the funding of FRSs; building regulations and design; the public voice of FRSs; fire-safety accreditations and education; police and crime (and fire) commissioners; and the growing wider public roles of blue-light services.
This seminar and its topical format may be repeated in the early autumn at another venue.
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