Solutions to high-rise fires like at Grenfell Tower

I was sickened by the recent Grenfell Tower fire in London. Obviously everyone was shocked and angered this could happen. From what I understand the fire was caused by a fridge, which the firefighters claim to have put out, but by that time the fire had spread up the building.

I’ve been wondering how a disaster like this could potentially be avoided. Clearly authorities are working on changes so flammable panels and fire sprinklers meet safety standards. Apparently the UK government confirmed that councils estimate 600 high-rise buildings could have similar flammable exterior cladding to that used on Grenfell Tower.

Of course, the matter of housing the victims is a priority, and many, firefighters, surviving residents, and onlookers, need aid and counselling. What was nice to hear was the outpouring of support by Londoners who offered food and clothes to those who lost everything in the fire.
In an interview with a solicitor, it saddens me the public enquiry doesn’t allow the victims to be heard, which an inquest would.
This is one of the richest boroughs who made £13m gross profit in 2016 and £12m in 2015, so you’d think they could afford to meet basic safety regulations.

Unfortunately, there’s also the question of political bias. Musician Lily Allen in a brave interview spoke of approx. 300 politicians with 72 of them landlords, a situation which conceivably might impact the voting for the passing of a law on fire safety.

I hope I'm not being insensitive, if so I apologize. I was reminded of the 1970s Hollywood disaster film The Towering Inferno. What lessons can be learned is the reason for mentioning it. Note, the IMDb description says the building was "poorly constructed".
Spoiler warning: The plot is a rescue operation, with Americans trapped in a burning skyscraper. A solution in the film (described in this clip) is allowing water tanks in the building to wash down over the flames. Perhaps wasn’t an option in London? Spoiler end.

A practical method I’ve become aware of is at, a $1500 product that could save you in an inescapable highrise fire like Grenfell Tower. I'm not receiving a penny to promote this rescue device. I'm just trying to find ways to save lives.


  1. It's a shame this happened. Even worse if a bunch of landlords with some political clout keep improvements from being made because it would cost them money. I hope the greater good prevails and something is done.

  2. It's been awful reading about it here. I just can't imagine how anyone copes in that situation and it should never have happened in the first place. But I'm very impressed by the Skysaver - what a simple but so effective and potentially life-saving idea; every resident in a high rise should have one. Perhaps, particularly in the case of social housing for low income families, they should be provided automatically as part of the fixtures and fittings.

    1. @C: Horrifying event, many may never fully recover. Hope my post can spread the word about skysaver, as you say should be a fixture of high-rise flats. I’ve heard you probably need to use the wire/backpack before the fire on the outside becomes severe. Apparently the wire’s length is designed for 25 floors, so if you’re higher up you might want to buy something else! It also won’t hold small children and excessively heavy individuals. Still, it’s a chance to get out.

  3. @Wendell: Hopefully this kind of tragedy can be prevented in the future. It should never have happened. The firefighters did what they could, but the uncontrollable fire was a losing battle. Greed is responsible for a lot of problems in the world.

  4. Very good of you to post about this horrific disaster in such a helpful way - The skysaver should be an obligatory bit of kit for anyone living in high rise flats but there is probably going to be a lot more of a focus on safety now which can only be a good thing. Just such a shame it came to late for the poor souls who lost their lives.

    No not insensitive to mention that movie as I also thought of it after watching the news the morning after the blaze - I clearly remember going to watch it at the cinema and right at the end Steve McQueen's character makes the point that if they are going to build these towers, (even if the construction is good) they have to make it possible for fires to be put out quickly and efficiently - The most highly trained fire crews in the world couldn't have dealt with last week's inferno and they shouldn't have had to put their lives at risk doing so. Full of admiration for them as is the rest of the country I'm sure.

    1. @Alyson: Yes, if anything positive can be taken from the disaster, it’s more focus on safety in similar buildings.
      The 70s film Towering Inferno is shockingly relevant, even using the same dialogue “cutting corners” to save on property safety. The last scene is a lesson that input from firefighters is important when building a high-rise structure. Appalling the council/landlord bypassed warnings about fire risks at Grenfell .


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