Grenfell Tower and Fireman

Grenfell Fell To The Ground

Group 48

June 2017 marked the date where the horrifying news of skyscraper tower blazed in fire had sparked the attention of most people primarily to those who invested in the high-rise building – Grenfell Tower. The foreseen disaster had engulfed with it 80 innocent lives. A cladding method for insulation, a main cause for the horrific Grenfell fire. The fire that starts from human selfishness.

MONEY VS LIFE – WHICH IS MORE VALUABLE

Grenfell Tower and FiremanThe rapid fire was influenced heavily using cladding as one of their exterior wall. Even though there is high risk of flammability of the material, the cladding is famously known for its low cost, which reduces the expenditure of the constructions as well as increasing net profit.

The stakeholders involved in the case are the residents, construction companies, and government bodies. The residents would want an economical place to live in. Local authority Building Control department target to achieve the most financial gain (more money). Government is interested in saving energy by reducing the usage of electricity needed for heat generation.

The relevant values include public well-being, sustainability of energy, and moral codes of engineers. The most intense issue in this particular scenario is the feasibility of cladding as a construction material. The rising options for action are; (1) installing cladding in place of accustomed construction materials such as steel and concrete and (2) maintaining construction with standard establishment procedures which are highly emphasizing the safety factor.

According to theory of utilitarian ethic; one should consider to come to a decision where the greatest happiness for the most individuals involved. This means when we have a sea of choices, we have to pick the best course of action for everyone’s satisfaction. In this particular case, each person in this world love to minimize expenses and gain more profit which is justifying the selection of the cladding at the first place. The cladding material is inexpensive, durable, and light when compared to the steel and concrete. The material also helps insulating the tower, and as a result, the government could save more on energy expenses. Besides, from the laboratory test point of view, the material solely does not impact on the large scale of fire destruction.

Hence, the decision making was majorly influenced by the vote of the residents before the construction began (low-cost cladding) and supported by test results that show the material is compliance with laws and legislations, these altogether promote the framework of the building to be justifiably reasonable. It is rational to argue that the fire spreading out and affecting the whole tower does not happen because of the cladding used, but rather because of other reasons.

A Life costs £62.50?

Cladding[2,3,4]. A well-known cause of fire around the world where buildings turn into infernos in matter of time. Disappointing when similar event of fire had occurred beforehand such as Lacrosse building and Dubai’s Address Hotel. Even in the UK itself, Lakanal House Fire accident where same pattern of fire spread is observed. Portrays how responsibility being ignored. Are 6 fatalities being not enough to open their eyes? It is unacceptable how the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO) could go on with the renovation without evaluating the fire hazard. Local authority Building Control department is also held responsible in how the safety check of the building especially in term of fire risks. Arrogance and lack of responsibility may be the core problem surrounding this catastrophe.

Causes of The Grenfell Tower Tragedy
Click to Enlarge

London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority had warned the consequences of the aluminium based cladding insulation. The combustible Reynobond polyethylene (PE) plastic insulation implemented aids the fire spreading causing the time needed to engulf the whole building in just 15 minutes. Which is already been banned by the German and US on specified height building. Grenfell Action Group (GAG) had already sent reports to Kensington Fire Station and KCTMO. However, their voices were ignored and worse, declined the request regarding the independent safety adjudication.

Alternative? First, better decision making is essential. This is applied where based on the supplier itself (Omni Exteriors), Reynobond FR (fire resistance) is available for just £2 more compared to the Reynobond PE plastic chosen. In addition, regulations involving cladding should could been established sooner. Fire Protection Association (FPA) and Building Research Establishment initiative towards the government in making the regulation was thrown down the drain. Besides, awareness of the material hazard must be understood before implementing it in a large scale. Further test of cladding should be done checking its compatibility and reliability with real life situation.

In this case, freedom principle was betrayed when £2 cheaper aluminium-based material was chosen. Indeed, people love cheaper alternatives and make more profit despites of a higher fire risks would arise. However, this small happiness in saving some can be easily vanished after accident affecting the family of victims in accepting the deaths. Intuitively, innocent residents were not explained by the authority of the fire risk of the cheaper cladding method and made poor decision based on one aspect, price.

Summing up the facts, there is nowhere near a cut of £5000 in cost can be relevant with the outcome of fatalities. Due to lack of judgement and guideline in balancing between Risk vs Benefit. This urge the need to take immediate response and improvisation from past mistakes. As if the action in enactments of regulations had been done earlier, the outcome of the accident may be greatly differed. Fire hazard tests and renovations later on onto 600 flats suspected to use the same material around the UK will surely contribute more cost. It was ridiculous that a 100% failure rate was obtained from the first 75 buildings tested.

58 thoughts on “Grenfell Fell To The Ground

  1. Don’t know much the “ engineering” site of it.
    But the article is easy to follow and the utilitarian framework is described nicely.

    However,the ethical framework could be expanded by taking into account wider perspective and responsible parties.

    Good job??

    1. Ethics in general is quite complex but there’s a serious need in implementing them especially in engineering. I agree with this comment where wider analysis on the ethical framework should be done. For example, is it sufficient for the residences who were aware about the risks only complained? Do they proceed with any further follow-up or plan to push the responsible party to take action?
      There are also other causes besides the cladding where ethics should be emphasized and regulated which may have prevented or reduce the damage that had been done.
      Anyway, thanks for the insightful comment!

    2. Hello there,
      I agree but the ethical framework has been in wider view for the second part, it just they didn’t address the ethic fully one by one. Maybe they want tell the consequences more rather than ethic itself. For the first part, it is more clearer but they are assuming of utilitarian would be the best option after all happiness is all people look for in this world. Maybe more discussion on ethical framework so, more ethics can be explained further?

      1. If we were to debate on proper, technical aspects of ethical studies, I believe the article could not open up the discussion to many readers. This is because the technical ethical evaluation has to be studied, and general public can only give general comments on humanity values or common sense views.
        On another note, I would say a conscious normal human being would definitely go for option 2 which taking safety as a top priority. No value of physical things in this world can be compared to that of a life.

        1. I hardly agree with the second opinion you’ve said. Not everyone will prioritize safety. They surely choose safety over cost after something had happened, but, most of the people were blinded by the cheaper alternatives. These ignorant people always the one that causes a severe damage afterward. Nonetheless, for those people that well aware of the impact will choose safety as in this case it costs their lives.

          1. This is because not everyone is blessed with wealth. Some people just don’ t have the money and power to choose the safe options.
            For instance when buying a car, not everyone is rich enough to buy a car with good safety feature. Some people can only afford cheap car which can result in fatality if involved in accidents. Can we say they are ignorant?

      2. Yes but the utilitarian framework have a weaknesses where it does not considers duties and moral values. So it is safe to say that their action of building the property using cheap material to gain profit is not ethical.

  2. Hello,

    In light of the fact that a better option was available for a mere £2 extra, it is ridiculous that this was put aside for cheaper costs. Even if it did cost double the amount for cladding, let me ask you this: How much was lost when the building burnt in flames?

    A lot to think about to whoever managed the building.

    Additionally, more details of other factors could have been mentioned in the article, such as the conditions of the fire alarms, safety measures (I have read that they were not kept to an acceptable standards), as well as other stakeholders.

    Kind regards,
    Muaz Mohd

    1. Agreed. In order to save the cost, they have lost yet more. However, the lost of lives is what we regretted the most. How selfish they were in making those decision thinking only about profit while ethics being ignored.
      Its true that are few more condition that contributed to this devastating incident. While they may think that each of their problem was a small thing, these things add up and we can see the aftereffect. Thanks for sharing your view mate!

  3. The article did a good job weighing on both the pros and cons. And was cohesive in arriving to its conclusion.

    Assuming the articles’ main focus is on the ethical aspects, it also found a good balance in mentioning engineering aspects that were involved.

    1. I disagree with you, maybe the article looks balanced in two parts. But how the second part actually uncovered the truth behind the consequences of the fires more details. The second part is more clearer in giving their facts but forgot to write their ethics on each topic discussed.

  4. Safety is always considered as a good long-term investment. I am quite shocked to read the fact that there are lives can be saved by an insignificant amount of investment. I hope, by spreading this article, this act of negligence would not be happening again in future.

    1. Yeah. There is no harm investing towards a better safety. Life of innocents depends on it. Its quite disappointing on how the incident could happen considering that there were some happened previously even in the UK itself. However, some incident maybe are meant to happen but we as human and a community can help in reducing the possibilities and risk of it happening. Hope this can finally open our eyes on the importance of obeying the ethics in making our job right. Thanks for your concern Ipin!!

      1. Living in the world now, money holds a very high value. If a company decided to not go for profit, the company might not be able to sustain for a longer period. This would affect the employees especially the construction workers, if the company then is forced to shut down due to financial issues. The physical labours only have enough for themselves, yet if such thing was to happen, they will lose job, which consequently affecting the life of their families as well. They were also only doing the job they were given to, and did not have any voice in deciding the usage of the cladding. Thus, if a company could make profit even in small amount, the company should go for it.

      2. Lovely!!

        This article indeed emphasizing the impact of choosing a 2 pound less cladding materials will cost a fortune. Spreading such article will increase awareness among the local community where beliefs are given with the uses of concrete and steel as building blocks are to avoid fire over traditional wooden houses back then but still can be engulfed in a 15 minutes fire and the bad flammable cladding materials used to blame. The awareness increased at least will increase the other safety features and equipment of a household for the buildings that have already used the same materials. As mentioned in this articles, there are no sprinklers were installed in the Grenfell tower and the fire extinguishers were not being testified for over a year. Hope the spread will open up people eyes and minds.

    2. This is very vague statement, I know safety is the best for all but how we improved things if we didn’t learn from the past mistakes. Being too careful sometimes complicates things more. But if the safety was enforced with the right procedures and in a good mind, this will actually encountered the solution to everything. That is why cooperation between a lot of sides should be advisable so the best decision can solve this problem. What do you guys think about this statement that ‘sometimes mistakes is a good measurement to an unsolved event’?

      1. Mistakes can help one to improve further and achieve success. However, if life is involved, make no mistake. This is because once a life is affected, it cannot be reversed. Many similar mistakes had been done in the past, yet the same thing happen again. This shows that the company had not been sensitive to cases happened in the past, especially in the same field of work. I hope future construction would finally take note of the matter and always prioritise safety at all times.

        1. I agreed with this, the contractors were not being sensitive to the safety issue raised by the local residents as well as the fire hazard of the materials used. Here ones can also view under virtue ethics that the contractors behaviours influencing the actions made. The missed stakeholders here are the engineers that responsible for calculating the problems coming might be prioritizing their reputations and instead of being a whistle-blower of the company.

      2. I against with you statement. How is mistake a good thing especially when it caused death and loss of property.? I believe we must always take safety measure to prevent such event. Learn form failure is good. But letting yourself fail on purpose to learn something is not good.

  5. Interesting piece of work!
    This article is very easy to follow and enlightening to read. This article did a great job in making me understand the root cause of the awful tragedy. Kudos to you guys.
    I’ve some questions though. How is the government benefit from the use of cladding material in the construction of the building? Why is the government paying for the electrical usage instead of the residents of the building ? Shouldn’t the residents of the building pay for their own electrical bills?

    1. Government is consulted as general term which they want to save energy and I agree with you but it is actually, government in this case is the authority bodies such as building control authority is one of the government’s authority who agree for everyone to save cost and use a cheaper equipment and energy usage as a whole can be reduced. This is the aspect of the government to protect the environmental care. This one of the responsibility as one of the main authority, maybe they didn’t go through the procedure fully or maybe the authority careless in their work and should not take this issue easy even they consulting the usual construction companies. Maybe they should not handle with the same management as previous and improvising their ethically evaluation further before agree on this issue to save energy.

  6. Very early on you mention the stakeholders. Excellent!

    The first part of the article involved a good degree of ethical consideration (Utilitarianism) but seemed absent in the second half.

    Also, could you expand on the comment: “the decision making was majorly influenced by the vote of the residents before the construction began (low-cost cladding)”. This is interesting.

    To date, I’ve known about the Grenfell Action Group, and the fact they often voiced concerns on a number of issues, but it’s interesting to note that the residents were consulted, as the term vote implies.

    1. As the resident vote implied that the greatest happiness was considered. This was not a good measurement of decision-making because the construction companies should consult the experts and ask the experts to give a talk to the residents before any unsafe measure was applied. By doing this, maybe perspective of the resident would change and maybe they will re-consider. Unless the construction company was selfish in gaining the profit without thinking of its responsibility as this will crush the integrity of the company as a whole.

    2. Utilitarian ethic was mention in the first part but in the second part it was better in giving missing facts which were the moral analysis of the article. If you know that Grenfell Action Group, why would you think they proceed this even when a lot of complaints has been made, they vote of everyone happiness should not be taken into account. For me, I would rather collected as many as possible complaints just in case anything can go wrong and try to fix within a team of experts. So, the safety measures are specified on standard. What do you think the Grenfell Action Group still doing this decision, even though, they were getting a warning from London Fire and Emergency Authority?

  7. I always don’t agree with sacrificing our soul just because of to reduce the expenses of safety, for this case using cladding instead of other material that is safer but more expensive. because I don’t like how people put a price to our precious life, since we live only once, haha.
    I think in view of the construction companies, that they just want to build a cheap and affordable home for the needed one in this currently high house prices era. but in the virtue ethics side, the construction companies should not to that since they know the harm or the hazard or the risk of the building. so they should tell their customer about the risk of the apartment or provide adequate fire safety to ensure the loss is not too big.

    1. I strongly believe that this issue should not be taken lightly. I mean at the first place utilitarian framework was applied based on everyone happiness, the cost of safety should be the main concerned of the construction companies. The resident as well should not blindly consulted, as price is the everyone interest in finding an economical home to live in. Price is irrelevant to compare with life, the construction companies should know the facts about the cladding. As stated above, this cladding is banned in most countries but not in the UK at that time, so this is an enlighten everyone conscience regarding this cladding issue. The resident as well should complaint or consult the management to give a wider view regarding the safety in details not easily based on money solely. I think another ethical framework would be better to discuss in this issue so, as I read London Fire and Emergency Authority already told the consequences, so the integrity of these management should be issued and warned to a bigger audience or media. These discussion on ethical justification is good in future for protecting public welfare.

  8. As i read this case, lots of ethics issues can be found especially in care ethics. As an example, ones should consider the impact that may affect both sides in making a decision. For this case, the decision such as cost, safety, and maintenance should consider both the residents and the contractor. However, the prioritized aspect was only cost basis. The utilitarianism theories were indeed implemented for making most happy where in this case was by using the cheaper cladding materials that satisfied the residents and also the contractor for a low budget project. The lack of care ethics and amplified utilitarianism level in a community will give an adverse and severe impact where in this case is 80 fatalities. This is completely unacceptable for a big city of London that has a matured civilization. The authorities should increase the safety and fire hazard awareness in a residential.

    1. As mentioned in the article, the cladding was chosen as safety test had been conducted on the material. Therefore, it is safe to be used as a construction material. The article also only highlighting the cladding, as if there were no other influence on the rapid fire which to my understanding, many other factors were involved aside from the cladding. Looking at cost and safety aspects, cladding definitely received “green light” and justifying the concern in not banning the material.

      1. That is a good discussion. I agreed with you on why United Kingdom didn’t ban this type of cladding even there is a lot of countries have already banned it before. The management could say they were confused because of late enforcement of unsafe equipment like this. They should ban this and take it serious even there is no fires event happened in the UK so till the Grenfell was burnt in seconds. The government authority should ban any sales of this cladding so, constructors would not be confused of their action. So, a bigger side should take the responsibilities before blaming others companies who did mistakes without guidelines.

      2. I agreed with the fact that many other causes were also aiding the rapid fire. Plus, the renovation that was ongoing at that moment was closing one of the main fire exits. Leaving a big apartment containing 127 flats one fire exit only for every resident to save their lives in case of fire. The more ones dig on Grenfell Tower fire case the more terrifying facts they read. From here, one can say that virtue ethics are not there, engineers will always know or at least detect a problem is coming. However, human always has priority and being a whistleblower will cause him or her reputations damaged.

  9. Great article. It is clear that the fault lies on all sides except for the residents whom might not be briefed about a much safer alternative material for an extra of £2 as stated in the article. Despite the accidents involving cladding that happened prior to the renovation in 2015, the laboratory test doesn’t imply that the material would spread fire rapidly on a larger scale. Thus, it can be argued that the material itself might not be the sole reason of the fire spreading rapidly. The absence of sprinklers and functional fire extinguisher may be other factors as reported for this particular case.

    Based on what i’ve read, the replacement of the material with less fire resistance actually save them about £300,000 and that is big money. While it is understandable why they chose to use cheaper material, it is a foolish act as the risk was too high and in the end did cost them a fortune. At the end of the day, the one that has to suffer was the 80 innocent lives lost on the tragedy and their families. Having a lot of money surely is great but no amount of money can get rid the feeling of guilt knowing that you traded innocent lives for them. Money also cannot bring the dead back to life. At least not that I know of.

    1. Here, the post-payment for the recladding cost the government almost billions pounds to subsidize. Indeed such decision has caused a lot of damages in contractors companies and UK government reputations. This is why ones should urge the banning of the materials in the first place and avoid the confusion.

    2. jing jing anjing, I definitely agreed with the point of a large scale flammable materials cannot be the only reason to the fire. I’ve read that on how the materials were actually installed leaving an air space between the wall to the materials. This is what amplifies the rapidness. However, a flammable or less fire resistance material should be banned in the first place. As I think it gives the most impact. Afterall, it always people to choose the best for their lives.

      ting ting tangting

  10. Interesting article!

    I agree on the use of the utilitarian ethic in justifying the use of the cladding material due to its low cost has help in making more affordable apartment for the community. I also feel that the duty ethic can be added along as the material serve its purpose in term of insulating the wall despite of it is less fire resistance. However, the construction company should informed the residents beforehand on the weaknesses of the cladding material and hence heightened the fire prevention measures.
    It is difficult to blame the construction company in regards to the use of the less fire resistance material cause the tragedy wholly but the material does make things worse. If the source of the fire is mitigated at first place, the tragedy may not occurred.

  11. Good article.
    I think you can also apply Kantian Theory in this article with the maxim ” The construction company selling unsafe property to people without they knowing the material used to build the building is not safe” which is clearly cannot be universalised. Hence, their action is not morally acceptable 🙂

  12. I agree that we should never risk the life of a human just for the sake of money. While it’s an admirable effort by the government to provide these low-cost apartments for the community, it was also the duty of the government make sure these ‘homes’ was as safe as possible. Why call it a home, when you can’t feel safe in it?

    Now, I am nowhere near qualified enough to be talking about construction, or how easy it is to design these ‘cheap, safe, ideal’ homes for the poor, but I believe more effort should have been put in by the government, since people are actually going to be living in this building. People, children, will be inside the building a majority of their time, since, you know, it’s a place for them to rest? Was it really worth that risk? Perhaps they should have tried harder looking for alternative ways to reduce the overall cost. Unfortunately, this was not the case and lives were lost. Overall, an interesting topic… and I hope at least just by having this discussion, we would be more aware of what’s /really/ at stake when we design and build these low-cost homes, and be more responsible.

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