Here Are All The Warnings About Fire Safety Risks In Tall Towers Before Grenfell – BuzzFeed News
1991: The Knowsley Heights fire in Liverpool
What happened? A fire at Knowsley Heights tower in Liverpool in 1991 was started deliberately in a ground floor refuse area outside the building. As a presentation by the Building Research Establishment showed, the tower’s recently installed cladding was of the limited-combustibility variety, but the flames still managed to spread quickly, through a 90mm gap between the rubberised, painted concrete walls and the cladding.
There were no fire breaks in this cavity gap, which allowed the fire to spread upwards past all 11 floors. Luckily, no one was injured.
Were there any recommendations? A House of Commons select committee report in 2000 specifically pointed out that Knowsley was an early example of how rainscreen cladding could contribute to the speed with which fire can spread up the outside of a tower.
The inquiry that followed the Knowsley fire was partly responsible for a change to the part of the building regulations that governs tall buildings and the type of material they use – Approved Document B – in 2006.
Because of this change, material graded at least A2 (i.e., with limited combustibility) must be used on the inside and outside of cladding, and there must be fire breaks in the gap between the cladding and the wall.
But this was the last time the regulations were updated and, as would become clear in several subsequent cases, this may have allowed several tragedies to happen.
1999: A fire ripped up the side of this tower block in Ayrshire
What happened? A 55-year-old man died and five others were injured, including a 15-month-old child, in a fire at Garnock Court in Irvine.
The building had cladding with a plastic core, as Grenfell did, and eyewitnesses described seeing the cladding set alight and flames reach the top of the building within 10 minutes – just like at Grenfell.