Fire engineer didn’t think Grenfell Tower cladding dangerous

Fire engineer ‘did not think installing cladding on Grenfell Tower would pose safety problems, inquiry into blaze that killed 72 hears

  • The Grenfell Tower inquiry resumed on Monday for the very first time since March
  • It was temporarily postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic 
  • Clare Barker said in 2012 that overcladding the tower would not cause problems
  • She told the inquiry she did not recommend an assessment of the cladding 

A senior fire engineer told the brand new Grenfell Tower disaster inquiry that she did not think overcladding the tower block would lead to any problems throughout the refurbishing of the tower in 2012. 

The Grenfell inquiry sat for the first time since mid-March on Monday after being paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former principal fire engineer at Exova Dr Clare Barker, who had been only active in the refurbishment project between July and August 2012 as she was covering for an ill colleague, told the inquiry she didn’t recommend a fire safety assessment of the cladding of the block eight years ago.

Former principal fire engineer at Exova Dr Clare Barker (pictured) unmasked she did not overcladding Grenfell Tower would lead to fire safety dilemmas during a meeting in 2012, the inquiry into the tragedy heard

She was asked by Richard Millett QC: ‘Given that you knew Grenfell Tower will be overclad, while not the details, did you improve the need to perform a fire assessment specifically in relation to the proposed cladding system because the proposal then stood?’

Dr Barker replied: ‘No.’

Mr Millett, the main lawyer of the inquiry, also asked: ‘At the full time did you think about that cladding this building would present any particular issues or problems pertaining to fire safety?’

She replied: ‘No, I didn’t.’

The inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy (pictured) resumed on Monday, its first sitting since the middle of March due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic

The inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy (pictured) resumed on Monday, its first sitting considering that the middle of March as a result of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic

Dr Barker also unmasked she assumed that an assessment of Grenfell’s fire compartmentation was not needed as it was a concrete building. 

Asked by the inquiry why that assumption was made, she responded: ‘I would say it was assumed that, as the building was a concrete building, that it possessed the necessary fire resistance.

‘As well as due to the time it had been constructed, it had been required to be considered a building with two hours’ fire resistance to the structural elements.’

The inquiry in to the tragedy, which claimed 72 lives carrying out a devastating fire in June 2017, resumed on Monday, with ‘The Grenfell Next of Kin’ group seeking answers on whether the recovery and support for the victims of the disaster should have held it’s place in the hands of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The borough was condemned and blamed for having failed the residents of the tower block prior to the fire and the next phase of the inquiry will look in to its roles and responsibilities.

The tragedy claimed 72 lives (pictured) due to a devastating fire on June 14 2017, but survivors from the tower block blaze are not allowed to attend the inquiry due to social distancing rules

The tragedy claimed 72 lives (pictured) due to a devastating fire on June 14 2017, but survivors from the tower block blaze are not permitted to attend the inquiry as a result of social distancing rules

The inquiry was also criticised for not allowing the tower block survivors from the tragedy in to the inquiry as there is not enough room to adhere to social distancing regulations. 

Only witnesses, some solicitors, and panel members have already been allowed in to the inquiry building.

Nabil Choucair, who lost six relatives in the tragedy on June 14 3 years ago, said: ‘We ought to be allowed to see their faces.

‘We are the families that have had our families taken from us.’

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