Phase two of the Grenfell Inquiry will focus on the choice of materials, material testing, the adequacy of building regulations, and the management of the London Fire Brigade (LFB), the chair of the inquiry has said.
Writing in his phase one report, which focused on the night of the fire, Sir Martin Moore-Bick laid out a list of topics that will be investigated as part of phase two and promised that the testing and certification of combustible materials will “lie at the heart” of his investigation.
Phase two of the inquiry, expected to begin early next year, will also apply scrutiny to the 2016 refurbishment of Grenfell Tower and will ask how decisions over aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding and windows were made.
The report on the first phase of the Grenfell Inquiry made an unexpected early judgement that the ACM cladding was the primary reason why the fire spread the way that it did, and blamed the uPVC windows for allowing the fire to escape from the flat where it originated.
He also ruled that the cladding used on the building did not comply with building regulations.
Sir Martin said the second phase of the inquiry will also look further into the LFB as an organisation and how it is managed.
Phase one of the Grenfell Inquiry identified several failures in LFB’s response to the fire, including a reluctance to abandon its stay put policy despite it being “obvious” that an evacuation would have save lives.
Sir Martin originally hoped he would be able to publish findings on the circumstances in which the deceased met their deaths as part of phase one. This has now been pushed to phase two as it requires “more detailed examination of the evidence that has been yet been possible”.
The London Fire Brigade
A further investigation will be made into the London Fire Brigade (LFB) as an organisation, following the failures of response identified in phase one of the report. This will include questions over training and a greater scrutiny of those at the top.
Testing and certification of materials
Questions over how Grenfell came to be covered in highly combustible materials will “lie at the heart” of phase two. This will involve looking into the adequacy of regulations, the effectiveness of the tests currently in use and the manner in which materials are marketed.
Design and choice of materials
The 2016 refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower will be under the spotlight in phase two, with questions being asked about why aluminium composite material (ACM) panels and combustible insulations was chosen. This will include an examination of the government’s building regulations.
Following the concerns raised over fire doors as part of phase one, phase two will look further into whether these doors complied with regulations, whether they were able to provide appropriate protections against fire and smoke and if not, how that situation came about and why.
Phase one found the use of uPVC window jambs in close proximity to combustible insulation allowed the fire to initially escape the flat in which it began. Decisions made over windows as part of the 2016 refurbishment will also be explored in phase two.
It appears that the ‘fireman’s switches’, which should allow firefighters to take control of a lift, were not working on the night of Grenfell, leading to fatal consequences. Phase two will investigate whether the lifts in Grenfell were properly maintained.
Smoke extraction system
An investigation will be carried out into suggestions, made as part of phase one, that the smoke extraction system failed to operate in accordance with its design and potentially contributed to the spread of smoke between different floors.
Local community warnings and the authorities’ response to Grenfell
Phase two will delve more into accusations that local community warnings over fire safety and the refurbishment were ignored by the tenant management organisation. It will also scrutinise the authorities response to the disaster in the immediate aftermath.