Grenfell Inquiry moves to Module 3

The Inquiry moved to a new module this week, hearing opening statements on day one from bereaved, survivors and residents, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KTCMO). On day two, further opening statements will be heard from London Fire Brigade, the Fire Brigades Union and the Mayor of London.

Module 3 is divided into three topics. The first will focus on fire-related complaints, the second the fire safety obligations of RBKC and KTCMO and third, the active and passive fire safety measures in Grenfell Tower.

Lead Counsel to the Inquiry, Richard Millett QC said: “This module has a broad ambit under a single unifying theme of whether and to what extent they performed their duties under their fire safety obligations.”

He continued: “The Inquiry will investigate from different perspectives, starting with evidence from those who lived in the Tower. It is vital that it begins with evidence of those whose health and safety should have been the primary aims of the duty holders.”

In a preview of evidence to come during this Module, Richard Millett said: “For example, RBKC has recognised as part of its arrangements for scrutinising the TMO, it never made fire safety the subject of a key performance indicator.” Adding to this, the audit processes did not include the fire risk assessments and response to deficiency notices served by the London Fire Brigade. “On any view, these are significant deficiencies of RBKC’s arrangements for monitoring or scrutinising the effectiveness of the TMO’s compliance with its fire safety obligations.

Topic two of this module will be ‘wide ranging’. It will examine the adequacy of KCTMO’s management of fire safety and the effectiveness of carrying out fire risk assessments. It will look at the competence of Carl Stokes, the TMO’s fire risk assessor and the adequacy of his fire risk assessments and his advice regarding the cladding.

The evidence will focus on three principal questions:

  1. Whether KCTMO had an adequate evacuation plan; assessed fire risks to individuals and how to mitigate them; and whether there were Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans for vulnerable residents.
  2. Whether there was a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment arrangements for Grenfell Tower
  3. Whether arrangements for maintaining active and passive fire safety measures were adequate, looking specifically at gas, smoke control, repairs and maintenance, fire doors and lifts.

Module 3 will finish with the evidence of Colin Todd and Dr Barbara Lane on fire risk assessment.

Concluding his opening remarks, Richard Millet confirmed the Inquiry will not sit on 14 June, the fourth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. “Out of respect for those who died and to allow those who grieve to remember their loved ones and for all of us to reflect privately.”

Attendance at the Inquiry will continue to be limited but will open in accordance with government guidelines.