Friday, 16 June 2017

High Rise Hell

In the light of the utter tragedy of Grenfell Tower, Calton is reconsidering his views on a room with a view. He finds it absolutely astonishing that a 24 storey tower block could have only one staircase and be subject to far less stringent fire safety regulations than hotels or workplaces. That is just not acceptable and must change. Any housing block higher than fire brigade turntable ladders can reach needs to be demolished if it only has one escape route. We don't need a public enquiry to work that out. It is common sense. And safety should take priority over aesthetics (and cost) when it comes to refurbishing buildings. It's not as if we don't know how to get it right - Calton witnessed a good-going fire in an Edinburgh Georgian tenement a few years ago. Some drunken lads apparently thought it would be a good idea to have a real fire in their living-room. In the middle of the floor it seems. Then they went to bed and left it. A passing taxi driver first raised the alarm when he saw flames at a 1st floor window. By the time the Fire Brigade arrived the front window was out and the room ablaze. The occupants were decamping via the back window after a neighbour chucked a brick through it to rouse them. The flat was totally gutted however the surrounding flats were structurally sound, affected only by smoke damage above and water damage in the shop below. There were no fatalities and, apart from the lads responsible, everyone else was back in their homes that night. That tenement was built in the 1840s and still stands today. We have learned nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Calton's deepest sympathies are with all those who have lost loved ones and their homes in the Grenfell disaster. He has the greatest admiration for the emergency services personnel who attended the scene.

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