Rethink Fire safety - most obvious first!
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I am a mother of three little girls and like many others out there am absolutely horrified by the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower. While the official findings will likely take some time to come to light, I have great concerns over tragedies like this happening again. I am therefore calling on our government to immediately address the obvious failures with fire safety in buildings throughout the UK.
Many officials and regulators are hypothesizing over the cause of the fire (cladding, lack of sprinklers, faulty wiring, etc). Furthermore, modern fire regulations are designed to not only prevent fire but also to prevent fire and smoke from spreading between flats and within buildings. Eyewitness accounts have verified that fire and smoke travelled freely between floors and within the singular escape route inside the building. How could this possibly happen?
While it may take months and years to answer this question, one obvious place is being overlooked – the doors themselves. Within the UK, most doors are fitted with traditional letter plates for mail delivery. These letter plates undermine the fire-resistant property of doors and potentially allow fire and smoke to rapidly penetrate flats and travel freely between compartments.
Unfortunately, this tragedy is not unique. In 1980, an assailant poured petrol through a letter plate on Denmark Place and started a fire which killed 37 people. The Sunday Times said that it could be "the worst mass murder in British history". In 2000, an arsonist admitted killing seven people - four generations of the same family by pouring petrol through the letter plate. Again in 2012, six children died after petrol was poured through the letter plate of a house and ignited in Derby.
I am calling for a change in law to make it a legal requirement that owners and managers of ALL premises are personally responsible that apertures for mail in front doors are fitted with protection means against spread of fire, smoke and arson. The protection means must function on the principles of prevention as required by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the fire safety guides and good engineering. They must rule out most solid hazards at the letter plate point, resist introduction of liquids through the letter plate, and all liquids must be expelled if introduced. We must take action immediately while our leaders are most willing to listen.
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