The tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London

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When: Sunday, 29 October 2017
Venue: The University of Sydney, School of Civil Engineering, Shepherd St, Darlington NSW 2008

Kindly Hosted by: The University of Sydney, School of Civil Engineering, Shepherd St, Darlington, with support from the Innovative Fire Engineering group at the University of Melbourne

The Grenfell Tower in London is one of many fires that have breached perhaps the longest-standing fundamental fire safety object of tall buildings, which is to resist the spread of fire between floors. The Working Group will seek to deconstruct what “fire safety” means, take it back to the key concepts that are independent of code or country, and ask whether we understand each of those concepts and how they should be addressed. The Working Group will feed from investigations in China, Australia, the UK and the Middle East. Designers from around the world will be engaged and knowledge gaps to be filled by research and design tools will be identified. As information emerges, proposals for designers, builders and operators will be published.Following a significant number of tall building fires around the world, which have been attributed to the cladding, including the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in the UK, the CTBUH has established a multi-national, multi-disciplinary Working Group to examine the Fire Performance of Façades.

This is a time when the building industry needs clarity and leadership. The aim of this workshop, and this working group, is to create an international perspective on the issues and to help to create recommendations and guidelines that could work internationally, while local guidance is created.

At this stage, we are not certain what the problem is or how extensive it is and we shall not be rushing to conclusions. There needs to be a holistic review of building construction, risk and the way we fight fires. The Council can help by gathering evidence from around the world, by bringing international expertise together to review the findings and we can help by disseminating good information and recommendations around the world after they have been reviewed. That is the purpose of this working group and this workshop.

Disaster is often the catalyst for change, as it brings learning and awareness across the industry. Much as engineers learn from every earthquake, the building industry needs to learn from fires. The Grenfell fire can be a catalyst for a far-reaching review and profound change in tall building design and construction around the world. We think we know how to design and build safe high-rise buildings—it is time to put that to the test and re-examine all aspects of what we do.

The objectives of this workshop, and the working group generally are to:

Simon Lay, Director, Fire Engineer, Olsson Fire & Risk

David Scott, Structural Director, Laing O`Rourke

  1. Identify appropriate actions and best-practice approaches to mitigating risks associated with existing building stock.
  2. Review the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches and disseminate that information.
  3. Identify areas of research and investigation that could help mitigate future risks.

The Workshop will be chaired by former CTBUH Chairman David Scott, Structural Director, Laing O’Rourke, and CTBUH Fellow Simon Lay, Director, Fire Engineer, Olsson Fire & Risk.

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