Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world

The Grenfell fire and statistics

Octogenarians in general have ‘previous’, as the police call it for criticising present attitudes and complaining that the world is going swiftly to hell.

I have often refrained from behaving like that because history shows that we (the octogenarians) have usually been wrong. The world has not gone to hell, and our successors have somehow coped with their problems. But I can’t keep silence about the knee-jerk reaction of Camden Council in evacuating a tower block of similar construction to Grenfell.

Nowhere in the media has there been mention of a previous disaster on this scale. There has been fires of lesser severity which have been contained, or  caused only limited loss of life. But nothing like this. I conclude that the Grenfell fire is the first of it’s kind and that very many people have slept safely in tower blocks for many years. For this reason only, the odds against another similar fire in the medium term future are very high.

We are told that the fire originated in a fridge-freezer and that the fire leapt by a window to the suspect cladding, so the disaster actually required three conditions. The further reduces the probability of an early repeat. It is also a fact that the post-Grenfell situation is vastly different in terms of awareness. Nobody in a tower block is now going to ignore necessary precautions: everybody will be more aware of what to do in the case of fire.

If I lived on the top floor of a tower block, I would sleep peacefully tonight, believing that my chances of death by burning were far less than my chances of being run killed in a traffic accident tomorrow.

The projected measures for identifying and correcting faults and replacing materials are a high priority. But they can be carried out in an orderly manner because the statistical risk of an immediate Grenfell Two is very low indeed.




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