Grenfell campaigners have raised fears that more residents could be living in buildings with fire doors that have failed safety tests, amid fresh criticism of the government over its “lack of urgency” in tackling issues relating to the blaze.
Safety concerns mounted after it was revealed that tests showed a flat front door from Grenfell Tower could only hold back a fire for 15 minutes - half the time it had been designed to resist a blaze.
Relatives of those who died in the June blaze are stunned the findings have only been released now - nine months after the disaster.
Speaking of Thursday’s announcement, Clarrie Mendy, who lost relatives in the fire, told HuffPost UK: “Nine months to test a fire door?”, adding: “It’s an insult.”
“Every day gets more depressing.”
Mendy said: “A lot of people will feel aggravated over this news and after nine months the mood is changing, people are just tired, it’s just all these excuses one after another.”
A total of 71 people died last June when flames engulfed the high-rise tower, exposing a litany of safety issues, including the use of flammable cladding and the suitability of advice to remain indoors.
The Met said in a statement on Thursday: “The door tested was designed to resist fire for 30 minutes, but during the test it was only found to resist the fire for approximately 15 minutes, a much shorter period than expected.”
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said the risks to public safety “remain low”.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Public safety is paramount. Government has consulted a range of independent experts and they have advised that the risks to public safety remain low.
“I have made it clear that the necessary tests and assessments must be carried out thoroughly, but at pace.”
But campaigners are not satisfied with the speed of the government’s response to the fire.
Moyra Samuels, from Justice for Grenfell, told HuffPost UK: “The concern for the community is the fact that the government’s statement indicates that there are no real concerns, or they (the government) are not sure of the concerns or the implications for every other resident or tenant in social housing or otherwise.
“And I think that might well be quite worrying, in a sense of are we supposed to wait and see?”
“They are saying ‘well we don’t know, we’re not sure, we need to do more tests’, so it’s quite vague and it doesn’t give anyone enormous confidence,” Samuels added.
Javid told parliament his department did not believe the problem was systemic.
He said he has ordered more tests, adding: “Conclusions should not be drawn about the nature of the cause of the Grenfell tragedy – that is a matter for a separate police investigation and it must be allowed to run its course.”
But Shadow Communities Secretary Tony Lloyd said that he was “astounded” by Javid’s statement.
He said: “The secretary of state told us that the Metropolitan Police considered that this test result might have wider implications for public safety and consequently alerted his department.
“The secretary of state then went on to say that there is no evidence that this is a systemic issue, I was astounded by this.”
He added: “If this isn’t systemic, what assessment has been made of how many buildings are potential affected by this, how many individual flats, how many people who have fire doors that simply don’t do the job?”
Lloyd criticised the government over “a lack of urgency” in resolving issues related to Grenfell.
He said: “Nine months on, only seven of more than 300 tower blocks that have been identified as having dangerous cladding have had that cladding removed and replaced with something more acceptable. I’ve got to say to the Secretary of State, nine months on, this is simply not good enough.”
Javid denied the claim, saying that “every step of the way” the government had “worked as urgently as possible” to inform the public and carry out remedial work.
On the issue of fire doors, Javid said he was taking advice from experts and “so far, there is no evidence of a systemic problem”.
It is believed that Manse Masterdor was the manufacturer of Grenfell Tower’s fire doors. The company’s trade and operating assets have since been taken over by Synseal – which continues to trade under the name Mastedor.
Synseal said on Thursday that the products in question were no longer being sold.
When asked about those doors that are still in people’s homes, a Synseal spokesman told HuffPost UK: “Those doors weren’t fitted by us and therefore they are not our responsibility.”
A spokesman for Synseal said: “The doors were fitted in 2011 and 2012. There was a two year gap between Manse Masterdor installing the doors and Synseal taking over.
“In terms of products, when Synseal came to the company it was because it wasn’t performing very well, they changed lots of products, lots of specifications of doors.
“In terms of the doors used in Grenfell Tower, those would not be the same doors that are manufactured today.”
Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the British Woodworking Federation, said he was “concerned but not surprised” by today’s fire safety news.
He warned that in the years he has been analysing fire door safety standards, he has discovered there is a “legacy of neglect out there”.
“I don’t think people should panic, the first thing they should do is check the fire door... there are things people can do to give them some reassurance, but naturally I am concerned,” McIlwee told HuffPost UK.
A Kensington and Chelsea Council spokesman said: “We understand that tests have found that three fire doors from the same company provided less protection than guidelines recommend, but test results are as yet inconclusive.
“Alongside hundreds of councils and landlords across the country, we are seeking further information from the government on what this means for our residents.
“As soon as we have clear advice from the government about the safety implications of these tests, we will write to our residents about what this means for them.
“We understand this news will be of particular concern to residents in this borough, which is why we are urging the government to move as quickly as it can to give us clarity about the situation.”