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Reflecting on the Lakanal House Fire: 15 Years Later

Reflecting on the Lakanal House Fire: 15 Years Later


Fifteen years ago today (3rd July 2009), the tragic fire at Lakanal House claimed the lives of six people. The emergency response involved over 100 firefighters, 18 pumping appliances, 9 fire rescue units, and various specialist fire appliances. 

Since that fateful day, significant changes in legislation have been made to prevent similar disasters. Unfortunately, many of these changes were prompted by the Grenfell tragedy, underscoring a disappointing delay in legislative action following such catastrophic events. 

What are some of the most significant fire safety changes implemented since Lakanal House? 
  • Wayfinding Signage

The lack of clear signage was a critical issue during the Lakanal House fire, hampering firefighters' ability to navigate the building. This was also a key fundamental failure of Grenfell. As of January 23, 2023, the Fire Safety Regulations 2022 mandate that all high-rise residential buildings in England install wayfinding signage.

  • Golden Thread

Confusion arose during the fire as responders were unaware the building was divided into maisonettes. The Building Safety Act 2022 now requires duty holders and 'accountable people' to maintain and share detailed records of building information, ensuring responders are better informed. The introduction of the Golden thread was a key recommendation in Dame Judith Hackitts Building a Safer Future report following the Grenfell disaster.

  • Fire Compartmentation

The Lakanal House fire highlighted the inadequacy of fire compartmentation within the building. The Building Safety Act 2022 addresses the maintenance and provision of fire compartmentation. Additionally, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Fire Safety Act 2021, and Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 provide further guidance on these measures.

You can find the public report detailing the full results of the Lakanal House inquiry here


Lakanal House, Glasgow.

While these changes represent progress, the time it took to implement them after such tragedies emphasises the need for building managers to prioritise safety over merely meeting legislative requirements. As highlighted above, many of the outcomes from the Lakanal House inquiry were also faults of the Grenfell disaster, which happened 8 years later. This continued pattern of reactive changes highlights the importance of proactive safety measures to prevent future tragedies. The lessons learned from these events must drive ongoing improvements in fire safety practices and regulations to protect lives and property effectively. 


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