London Fire Brigade denies it signed off Grenfell Tower refurbishment


London Fire Brigade has denied it signed off the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower amid reports the service was consulted over renovation works before the devastating blaze.

There was "close liaison" between the fire brigade and Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) during the project, according to documents seen by the BBC.

Firefighters were reportedly shown the "fire safety features of the building" after the work was completed last summer.

But London Fire Brigade said it did not have the legal powers to inspect cladding or structural changes to buildings.

A spokesman said: "We do not 'sign off' refurbishment and we only have legal powers to act where we see internal fire safety problems such as compromised fire doors and combustible materials on staircases.

"While firefighters regularly visit local buildings to familiarise themselves with the layout and the firefighting equipment such as hydrants, this is not the same as making a detailed inspection of a building refurbishment especially when many of the changes would sit outside of our powers.

"We are unable to confirm exactly what contact we had with the TMO regarding the tower because this is now subject to a public inquiry."

The refurbishment of the tower is one area being considered by the public inquiry into the fire, which left at least 80 dead.

During the £8.6 million renovation, new cladding with a flammable core was wrapped around the tower, along with combustible insulation.

It is suspected the combination of these materials helped aid the spread of the inferno, which engulfed the building within minutes.

An independent review into building regulations and fire safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, was also announced last month.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said the fire "raised serious questions" about fire safety, centred on the use of flammable cladding in tower blocks.

The terms of reference for the public inquiry, which is being led by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, were announced on Tuesday.

The probe will examine the actions of authorities before the blaze, including Kensington and Chelsea Council, and how the aftermath was handled.

Sir Martin will also scrutinise the "adequacy" of building regulations, the recent refurbishment of the block and the causes of the fire.

The inquiry's first hearing will be held on September 14, with an initial report delivered by Easter.