London Tower Block Residents Say They Warned Authorities of Fire Risk Many Times

The Grenfell Action Group believes that their attempts to call attention to the fire risk were covered up, and that authorities refused to investigate

Smoke billows from Grenfell Tower as firefighters attempt to control a huge blaze on June 14, 2017 in west London.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP

A residents' action group said it warned authorities repeatedly of a fire risk at Grenfell Tower, the social housing block in west London that was engulfed by a huge blaze early Wednesday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said questions will need to be answered over the safety of tower blocks after the fire.

Some residents said they had been advised they should stay in their flats in the event of a fire, while the block's residents association had previously warned it was worried about the risk of a serious fire. 

"These questions are really important questions that need to be answered," Khan told BBC Radio. 

"Across London we have many, many tower blocks and what we can't have is a situation where people's safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained." 

The Grenfell Action Group said it "posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in RBKC," referring to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the local authority which owns the tower.

"All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time," the group said of the inferno.

In a blog post in November, the group accused the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants' Management Organization (KCTMO), which manages the 120-home social housing block on behalf of the local authority, of allowing "dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation."

"The Grenfell Action Group believes that the KCTMO narrowly averted a major fire disaster at Grenfell Tower in 2013 when residents experienced a period of terrifying power surges that were subsequently found to have been caused by faulty wiring," the group said.

"We believe that our attempts to highlight the seriousness of this event were covered up by the KCTMO with the help of the RBKC Scrutiny Committee who refused to investigate the legitimate concerns of tenants and leaseholders.

"We have blogged many times on the subject of fire safety at Grenfell Tower and we believe that these investigations will become part of damning evidence of the poor safety record of the KCTMO should a fire affect any other of their properties and cause the loss of life that we are predicting."