Fire engineer did not think claddin Grenfell Tower would pose problems

Fire engineer ‘did not think installing cladding on Grenfell Tower would pose safety problems, inquiry into blaze that killed 72 hears

  • The Grenfell Tower inquiry resumed on Monday for the first time since March
  • It had been temporarily postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic 
  • Clare Barker said in 2012 that overcladding the tower would not cause problems
  • She told the inquiry she did not recommend an assessment of the cladding 

A senior fire engineer told the new Grenfell Tower disaster inquiry that she did not think overcladding the tower block would lead to any problems during the refurbishing of the tower in 2012. 

The Grenfell inquiry sat for the first time since mid-March on Monday after being paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former principal fire engineer at Exova Dr Clare Barker, who was only involved in the refurbishment project between July and August 2012 as she was covering for an ill colleague, told the inquiry she did not recommend a fire safety assessment of the cladding of the block eight years ago.

Former principal fire engineer at Exova Dr Clare Barker (pictured) revealed she did not overcladding Grenfell Tower would lead to fire safety problems during a meeting in 2012, the inquiry into the tragedy heard

She was asked by Richard Millett QC: ‘Given that you knew Grenfell Tower would be overclad, although not the details, did you raise the need to carry out a fire assessment specifically in relation to the proposed cladding system as the proposal then stood?’

Dr Barker replied: ‘No.’

Mr Millett, the chief lawyer of the inquiry, also asked: ‘At the time did you consider that cladding this building would present any particular issues or problems with regard to fire safety?’

She replied: ‘No, I didn’t.’

The inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy (pictured) resumed on Monday, its first sitting since the middle of March due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic

Dr Barker also revealed she assumed that an assessment of Grenfell’s fire compartmentation was not needed as it was a concrete building. 

Asked by the inquiry why that assumption was made, she responded: ‘I would say it was assumed that, because the building was a concrete building, that it possessed the necessary fire resistance.

‘As well as because of the time it was constructed, it was required to be a building with two hours’ fire resistance to the structural elements.’

The inquiry into the tragedy, which claimed 72 lives following a devastating fire in June 2017, resumed on Monday, with ‘The Grenfell Next of Kin’ group seeking answers on whether the recovery and support for the victims of the disaster should have been in the hands of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The borough was condemned and blamed for having failed the residents of the tower block before the fire and the next phase of the inquiry will look into its roles and responsibilities.

The tragedy claimed 72 lives (pictured) due to a devastating fire on June 14 2017, but survivors from the tower block blaze are not allowed to attend the inquiry due to social distancing rules

The inquiry was also criticised for not allowing the tower block survivors from the tragedy into the inquiry as there is not enough space to comply with social distancing regulations. 

Only witnesses, some lawyers, and panel members have been allowed into the inquiry building.

Nabil Choucair, who lost six relatives in the tragedy on June 14 three years ago, said: ‘We should be allowed to see their faces.

‘We are the families that have had our families taken from us.’

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