Grenfell Tower Inquiry
A key participant in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry says the Phase 1 report shows how the ‘stay put’ strategy for high rise buildings needs to change.
Shah Ahmed lived at Grenfell Tower for over 25 years, was founder and chair of Grenfell Tower Leaseholders’ Association, and campaigned tirelessly over many years about fire and health and safety at the block.
Shah Ahmed firmly believes that, following the tragedy, residents in similar housing should not be advised, nor would they comply, with advice to stay in their homes.
“Now, after the Grenfell Tower inferno, if you conduct a survey of residents in other high-rise buildings, I can assure you that everyone would abandon the idea of a ‘stay put’ policy and they would say they would rather evacuate. It would be extremely difficult to enforce a ‘stay put’ policy after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.”
Mr Ahmed is in favour of an evacuation, rather than a ‘stay put’ policy. A stay put policy has been used across the UK for many years, where it is assumed a building’s design, construction and materials will stop fire spreading. The fallout from Grenfell has been a realisation that many high-rise properties fail to meet these criteria, and that a lack of knowledge about which buildings are able to withstand a blaze means a universal policy is unworkable.
The London Fire Brigade is also calling on the Government to order urgent research into ‘buildings that fail’ and has admitted that a sweeping policy of giving advice to residents to ‘stay put’ and await rescue may no longer be viable.
Shah Ahmed, meanwhile, remains hopeful the inquiry will continue to seek the truth in Phase 2. He will give further vital evidence to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry during the hearings next year.