Grenfell seven years on: ‘industry must ensure catastrophe never repeated’

The chair of the Building Safety Regulator’s Industry Competence Committee has said the construction industry must ensure a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower blaze never happens again.

On the seventh anniversary of the West London fire in which 72 people died, Jon Vanstone called for the industry to honour the memory of those lost, by “taking concrete actions to enhance building safety”.

He said the disaster, on 14 June 2017, “was a stark reminder of the critical importance of competence, transparency and accountability in the construction industry”.

“It highlighted severe shortcomings in building safety, leading to the implementation of the Building Safety Act – a pivotal step towards a safer future,” he added.

“As we remember the 72 lives lost, our industry must reaffirm its commitment to ensuring such a catastrophe never happens again.”

Vanstone called for those working in the sector to uphold the “highest standards of safety and quality” in all projects, ensure everyone is competent in their roles, promote continuous education in safety standards and best practice, and engage with residents to foster trust and collaboration.

“Together, we can build a safer, more resilient future for everyone,” he said.

The Industry Competence Committee advises both the Building Safety Regulator and the wider industry on issues relating to competence.

In February, cross-industry body the Competence Steering Group warned that the sector is not yet ready to demonstrate the competence of its workforce or show that no one is working beyond their competence.

Elsewhere this week, the Fire Brigades Union called for more regulation of business, as well as a greater programme of inspection and enforcement of fire safety.

General secretary Matt Wrack said: “Those responsible must be held accountable. But, fundamentally, Grenfell was caused by a lack of regulation and oversight by ministers.”

He said the Conservative government had failed to introduce enough safety measures following the tragedy and that thousands of high-rise residents remained at risk.

“The next Labour government must end the crime of deregulation, with proper standards and oversight of building materials, design and evacuation plans,” he urged, pointing to the likelihood of Labour gaining power after the July general election, in light of its current wide lead in the polls. 

“The fire service must be given the resources it needs for a programme of enforcement and inspection.”

Wrack welcomed the party’s pledge to build more homes, but insisted that they must be made to high safety standards.

In May, it emerged that the final report of the public inquiry into the disaster would be published on 4 September.

The Metropolitan Police said it would need at least 12-18 months after the report’s release to complete its criminal investigation into the fire.

Any potential criminal trials are unlikely to take place before 2027.

This week, some of those affected by the fire told BBC News that they felt “forgotten” and that they were not receiving enough support.

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