No one who saw the pictures of the horrific scenes of the Grenfell Tower fire in London can have felt anything other than shock and deepest sympathy for the victims, their families, friends and all those affected.
Alongside this, there was widespread admiration for the brave individuals in the emergency services — and from the local community — who did all they could to save lives and alleviate suffering.
Nearly three months on, a picture of what happened, how and why, is beginning to emerge. We must await the outcome of the public and police inquiries before drawing firm conclusions. But it seems clear that a combination of failings ultimately led to what must be an avoidable tragedy.
Lessons need to be drawn from previous tall building fires in various countries so that this does not happen again.
Previously in this column I have argued that chartered surveying exists to bring about positive change through a better built environment and better stewardship of the land and natural resources. I have also written that the responsible practices of individual surveyors help keep our profession great, and that our reputation gives us the authority to advocate solutions and to exercise influence.
The Grenfell Tower fire is a graphic example of what can happen when systems or people fail. It requires expertise so that the causes are understood and addressed.
My appointment to the UK government's independent expert advisory panel, advising on immediate safety action, is a confirmation of the respect for our profession. It validates our expertise, our impartiality and our integrity, and my contributions have drawn on the expertise of fellow chartered surveyors and other built environment professionals.
I cannot predict the conclusions of the inquiries, but I can be confident that their recommendations will be directly relevant to our profession, and not only in the UK. I can also be confident that the measures we will need to take will rely heavily on our ability to work in collaboration with like-minded bodies.
I am proud that we are able to do something practical to help. For everyone’s sake, let us hope that our profession’s contribution to the independent panel will help to prevent a repeat of such a terrible tragedy.
This article was originally published in Modus
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