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Experts' Grenfell safety warning 7mths before fire; String of failings 'were not fixed' prior to tower blaze.

Byline: NICK SOMMERLAD Investigations Editor

EXPERTS warned about a string of fire safety failings at Grenfell Tower seven months before the tragedy.

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority issued a fire deficiency notice for the block in November 2016.

It gave the building's managers a deadline of May 2017 for action.

But it appears many failings were not fixed, including faulty fire doors which could have prevented smoke spreading.

A month after the deadline, 72 died in the tower inferno. A previous inspection by an independent fire assessor in June 2016, a year before the blaze, highlighted 41 "high-risk" fire safety failings. Action was needed in two to three weeks.

But ITV News, which also uncovered the LFEPA notice, said the expert wrote to Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation four months later, asking why more than 20 failings had not been put right.

Both audits found damaged or poorly fitted fire doors, and questioned whether a refurbishment had affected the operation of the building's smoke venting system.

Sandra Ruiz, aunt of Jessica Ramirez, 12, who died in the blaze in North Kensington, West London, said: "It makes me really angry that somebody would have received that information and didn't act on it."

Kensington and Chelsea council, Grenfell's owner, said: "This will be a matter for the public inquiry and to comment further could risk prejudicing the police investigation." Meanwhile, it was reported that 30 high rises still fail to meet fire safety building regulations, despite removal of cladding.

Construction compliance body British Board of Agrement claims to have whistleblower evidence that this is the case. The Government had identified 474 towers with Grenfell-style cladding.

The Housing Ministry said it "issued clear guidance and commissioned an independent review of building regulations", adding: "It is for building owners to ensure their buildings are safe. They should employ experts to advise them."

nick.sommerlad@mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

INFERNO Some 72 people died in Grenfell Tower fire

ANGER Sandra Ruiz and right, victim Jessica, 12

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 8, 2018
Words:335
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