Identifying most salient stakeholders
From the perspective of corporate responsibility, the following stakeholders are perceived as the most salient ones in the Grenfell Tower disaster:
UK government policy makers. Specifically, the focus is on those responsible for developing and implementing regulations related to fire safety. According to the UK regulations, having a single central staircase in tower blocks is a norm, and no additional staircases are required. As a result, during the fire, the escape of tenants was limited to this staircase only, thus minimising their chances of successful escape and survival. Government policy makers are as well responsible for failing to review and amend fire regulations regardless of the nationwide fire-related concerns in tower blocks. Also, the government is criticised for cutting legal aid, which limited the resources of tenant associations needed for becoming legally active (take legal actions) when it came to the necessity of drawing attention to builder owners’ safety standards and making them comply with the regulations.
Architects responsible for the initial design and cladding of the tower block, as there were numerous issues related to fire safety that had to be addressed in refurbishing the Grenfell Tower.
Lead architect of Grenfell Tower responsible for the recent refurbishment of the tower block. In the latest retrofitting, little attention was paid to issues connected to fire safety, such as exposed gas pipes or installing sprinklers.
Local government. The rationale for believing that the local government is among the stakeholders is the fact that all issues raised by the Grenfell Tower Leaseholders’ Association were ignored, which, eventually, was among the causes of the rapid fire escalation and turning it into uncontrollable.
Council approving the building construction and tower block refurbishment regardless of the specific features of the project and high fire-related risks. The stress here is on gas pipe exposure as well as exterior cladding and insulation that failed all fire safety tests, but still were used.
Fire safety experts. Their responsibility comes down to failing to properly estimate the quality of the tower block in view of fire safety and potential fires. Also, they are criticised for having failed to address all concerns raised by the Grenfell Tower Leaseholders’ Association, thus increasing risks of fire escalation in case of fire and minimising chances of avoiding fire-related threats.
Building owners. Regardless of the fact that the building owners acted according to the national legislation and fire safety standards, they ignored concerns raised by tenants as well as all risks potentially deriving from only one central staircase. At the same time, their responsibility comes down to ignoring the fire safety experts’ demands that exposed gas pipes are covered. This request was made months before the fire, but remained ignored.
Grenfell Tower Leaseholders’ Association. The motivation for pointing to these stakeholders is the fact that, regardless of raising concerns related to fire safety, they were not active enough in taking legal action. As a result, they could not draw necessary attention to the existing issues and foster necessary fire safety changes, such as covering exposed gas pipes with fire-retardant boxing.
Companies producing cladding (specifically, Celotex), as they offered materials that failed all fire safety tests (Rovnick 2017).
Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) responsible for ignoring all concerns raised by the Grenfell Action Group (GAG) and Grenfell Tower Leaseholders’ Association as well as refusing proper fire-resistant cladding during the building refurbishment (even though this decision is claimed to have been made due to the lack of costs and choosing a contractor with a more competitive tender).
Actions possibly taken within the following 12 months
Both contracting companies and government policy makers are likely to take relevant action in order to properly and efficiently respond to the Grenfell Tower disaster. Specifically, contracting agencies are likely to reconsider the manufacturers they cooperate with and the materials they use for constructing or retrofitting buildings. It is assumed that they will lay stress on testing materials used for cladding and insulation and assuring that these correspond with national fire safety standards and decrease the speed of fire expansion. In the case of contracting company responsible for the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, it is most likely to seek sources for covering losses experienced by the victims. The latter is as well true for the national policy makers, who are likely to get involved in the compensation initiative, especially providing support to those having become homeless as a consequence of the disaster.
As for the government policy makers, they are expected to be even more proactive than before. First, it is assumed that they will review fire safety regulations and standards. The stress should be laid on the quantity of staircases necessary for maximizing the chances of successful and safe escape in case of fires as well as the quality of materials used for insulation, cladding, and even construction to make it more fire-resistant. Also, the government is likely to reconsider the scope of legal aid provided to local authorities as well as the funds allocated for supporting the adequate level of fire safety expertise across the nation. The focus here is on increasing the number of fire investigators in order to prevent similar fires in the future. The motivation for believing that these actions are likely to occur is the fact that Grenfell Tower disaster is not the only similar fire. Some other incidents, such as the 1999 tower block fire in Irvine and 2009 Lakanal fire caused by refurbishment works, should be considered (Dexter 2017). Even though such fires are not widespread, adequate policy reaction is critical in order to avoid negative social response to the supposed government inaction.
Main social and environmental challenges
Once the tower block is eventually demolished, several social and environmental challenges are likely to be witnessed. Social challenges are the following:
The rise of social activism with the aim of improving fire safety standards and drawing attention to the issues deriving from ignoring these regulations. Social movements are expected to be created by means of social media (for instance, those similar to a website devoted to sharing all news related to the disaster and tracking the progress of addressing all consequences);
The development of social visibility by using such social platforms as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook as instruments for inducing additional pressure on government policy makers and fostering necessary changes;
Potential challenge of social unrest in case policy makers fail to properly respond to the regulations-related challenges and support all victims of the disasters by guaranteeing proper compensation. This one may be witnessed in the long run.
As for the environmental challenges, they are as follows:
Increased rate of noise pollution due to the nature of demolition process. In this case, the challenge is to keep noise pollution within the national standards and permissible levels of noise and carrying all works during normal working hours so that neighbourhood noise is avoided;
Air pollution challenge connected to dust, which is impossible to avoid in the demolition of buildings;
Vibration-related challenges that are also common for any demolition process;
Potential emission of hazardous substances, such as heavy metals, sulphate or phenol, based on the specificities of materials used in construction and refurbishment of the tower block.