Food For Thought: Grenfell Tower Tragedy

These past few months have been unusually trying for my second home England. In the wake of Brexit, Terror Attacks and Botched Elections, the last thing that anyone expected was to wake up to news that Hundreds are feared dead because a tower block went up in flames. 

As I type this, I understand that some individuals around may not necessarily be overly concerned as they feel removed from the tragedy. However, the issues and circumstances surrounding this extensive loss of life are too much to ignore. 

Many individuals may not necessarily feel overly pressed by the issue and some may even feel a distant sympathy, this tragedy however is not one that should take a back burner on anyone’s conscience. Not only does the fire highlight the apparent disregard for the safety of lives in the housing industry in London, but it brings to the forefront issues of the wealth disparity in London and the unwillingness of leaders to address the issues of the working class.

There are many questions to be asked surrounding this tragedy. So many of these questions will remain unanswered if we fail to look at the obvious and push to hold higher ups accountable. No where is anyone saying that a fire could not have happened and damage done… however in this day and age with the adequate technology available to mitigate against heavy casualties, the survival rate should have been higher and the damage should not have been this extensive.

Media houses reported that emergency personnel arrived on the scene with 6 minutes of the raising of the first alarm, yet the blaze could not be contained for several hours. Why? 

The building had even recently underwent a massive redevelopment with a near 10 million pound price tag, yet individuals heard no alarms and no sprinklers went off. Why?

In a building 20 stories tall individuals were trapped in the upper floors because there was no way out. Why?

The incident sits in my mind and i’m left to wonder why these people suffered to this magnitude. It makes no sense to me. How can a building which houses over a hundred persons inclusive of children not be equipped with proper access for emergency vehicles, fire alarms, sprinklers or exits? This was a recipe for disaster. 

It bothers me because literally all of this could have been avoided. In the building where i lived at university, the fire alarm went off all the time with a pounding nuisance. If student accommodation can be equipped with working fire alarms which are always being tested, then why couldn’t a residential council block which is occupied all year round be armed with the same. 

If anyone should be held accountable for the fire, though not caused intentionally, it should be the management of the building how allowed it to exist in such a state. They failed their residents by allowing them to live in unsafe conditions which led to this tragedy. It seems to me as if this multi-million dollar refurbishment was just enough to put up a decorative front but failed to fix major issues within the complex which could have mitigated the level of loss being experienced. 

This may not have directly affected me, but it affects people around me and families around me. Several individuals who attended my University live in or near Grenfell Tower and one student a first year like myself was confirmed dead by University Officials who have been trying to help out and reach out to families of students affected. 

I may not have known the student or anyone in the fire, but the fact remains that they should not be without a home or their lives because of something that the developers were actually bound to mitigate. 

The sad part about all of this is that there are probably other blocks in the same condition as Grenfell, Posh exterior but run down and rife with issues within. what’s even worse is that individuals who live in these places can’t even complain because it is all they can afford to live in as London’s housing stock is extremely over priced. 

Thousands in London are at the mercy of big developers whose only concern is the dollar and would apparently rush repairs and conduct half done refurbishments than to comply with regulations and potentially save lives. 

This is our sad reality. Grenfell Tower was located in one of the richest areas in London. The tragedy highlighted a major disparity between the overly rich and the average joe who live side by side. London like Grenfell is sugarcoated with a lovely exterior that’s very appealing to the eye, however a closer look would reveal issues that would prove septic should they not be properly addressed and managed. 

Our Leaders need to be held accountable for allowing big business to subject people to this level of uncertainty and safety. They need to doubledown on developers and ensure that safety is put before the financial wants and needs of developers to ensure that a fire and tragedy of this scale and magnitude doesn’t happen again. 

We shouldn't allow people to keep cutting corners. Growth is learning from mistakes.