By now everyone has heard about this fire in a high-rise residential building in London, which has likely resulted in
the deaths of 58 people (combined total of those confirmed dead and still missing) and dozens of people injured. The fire, which spread quickly up the outside of the building, has left people questioning whether the “shelter in place” strategy is the safest plan during a fire.
While the exterior cladding on the building is being investigated for its contribution to the blaze, there are also news reports where witnesses are quoted as saying that the door leading to the apartment of fire origin was left open. This undoubtedly impacted the egress routes that could have enabled residents to escape from the burning building.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again (and again, and again)…fire doors between dwelling units and egress corridors must be self-closing and self-latching in order to help prevent a tragedy like this one. Considering the frequency of residential fires and the number of times an open apartment door has led to fire spread and fatalities, I can’t imagine why the requirement for the annual inspection of fire doors is not being enforced for multi-family buildings in most jurisdictions.
A litany of failings in building regulation and safety rules have left residents in tower blocks vulnerable for decades. Despite constant warnings from fire experts, nothing was done to improve fire-proofing standards, or even review the current situation. Here are the eight times that the victims of Grenfell Tower were let down.
Maryann Adam, 41, lived next door to Mr Kebede at number 14. She said her neighbour had woken her up to warn her about the fire.
“He knocked on the door, and he said there was a fire in his flat,” she told MailOnline. “It was exactly 12.50am because I was sleeping and it woke me up.
“The fire was small in the kitchen. I could see it because the flat door was open. There was no alarm.”
Many residents were trapped, forcing some on higher floors to jump to their deaths rather than face the flames or throw their children to bystanders below. By Saturday, officials counted 58 people missing and presumed dead, including 30 deaths previously confirmed.
Despite that outcome, fire experts say “stay put” is still the best advice — as long as the building has proper fire-suppression protections, such as multiple stairwells, sprinkler systems, fireproof doors and flame-resistant construction materials, some of which were lacking in the London blaze.
Graphic: The Telegraph