Grenfell Risk Assessor Professionally Reckless

20 Sep 2021, by Anthony in Fire Safety Training

A multi-year investigation regarding the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 has found that the fire risk assessor involved with that project was “professionally reckless”. 

The inquiry reported that expert witness Dr Barbara Lane found the fire risk assessor Carl Stokes “unqualified” to determine whether the cladding used on the Grenfell Tower project complied with all fire safety rules and regulations.

This testimony stood in contrast with another witness in the inquiry that found Mr Stokes could have reasonably assumed that the cladding used on the project would have met fire safety regulations.

As of right now, the inquiry believes that the dangerous cladding used in the project was only partially to blame for the deadly inferno that killed 72 people in June 2017. 

The fire (the source of which is still under investigation) quickly engulfed the 24 story tower in the West End of London, leading investigators to wonder whether or not all safety rules and regulations were followed. 

A multi-year investigation was initiated, with former firefighters, fire safety professionals, forensic investigators, and other experts taking part in trying to uncover exactly what happened that day.

Mr Stokes himself was called in front of the inquiry in June 2021 and asked about the duties and responsibilities he had as the fire risk assessment expert hired by the building owners. 

It was during this testimony that Mr Stokes revealed to the investigators that he based at least part of his fire safety assessment report off of information provided to him during an informal conversation. 

Individuals working for the main contractor at the Grenfell Tower led him to believe that the cladding being used on the project was fire-safe and properly rated for that type of building.

Instead of digging deeper and looking into the materials himself, Mr Stokes took these bits and pieces of conversation as gospel and signed off on the project.

On top of that, in April 2017 (just a few short months before the deadly fire) Mr Stokes gave a report to the Tenant Management Organisation that owned the Grenfell tower that all materials used in the fire stopping and protection areas were “fire-rated” and up to code.

Dr Lane, a professional in the fields of fire engineering and safety, told the inquiry team that this behaviour from Mr Stokes was professionally reckless. Dr Lane also stated that Mr Stokes should have personally inspected the materials being used, confirming that the cladding was the right fit for the project.

Another expert witness called in front of the inquiry, however, contradicts this professional opinion from Dr Lane.

Fire engineer Collin Todd told the inquiry that Mr Stokes wouldn’t have normally physically inspected the cladding being used on the project. He went on to say that this would have been outside the purview and expertise of fire safety risk assessors.

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