Grenfell Towers: An epic free market fail

Grenfell Towers: An epic free market fail

This article points out the fallacy of those who advocate lite regulation and the notion that free markets will self regulate. In a shocking example that profit maximizing corporatations will do what is allowed, not what is right, the manufacturer of the material used in Grenfell had two disclosures in their European websites – one for Europe and one for UK.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/24/world/europe/grenfell-tower-london-fire.html

I will excerpt below the relevant bits:

“In a brochure aimed at customers in other European countries, the company cautions that the polyethylene Reynobond should not be used in buildings taller than 10 meters, or about 33 feet, consistent with regulations in the United States and elsewhere. “Fire is a key issue when it comes to buildings,” the brochure explains. “Especially when it comes to facades and roofs, the fire can spread extremely rapidly.”

A diagram shows flames leaping up the side of a building. “As soon as the building is higher than the firefighters’ ladders, it has to be conceived with an incombustible material,” a caption says.

But the marketing materials on Arconic’s British website are opaque on the issue.

“Q: When do I need Fire Retardant (FR) versus Polyethylene (PR) Reynobond? The answer to this, in part, depends on local building codes. Please contact your Area Sales Manager for more information,” reads a question-and-answer section.”

What this clearly shows is that the company willingly would sell cladding that it knew to be  dangerous. Why did they do that? Because they could. They clearly took advantage of the more lax UK market. Does anyone else find the irony in the fact that Britain is leaving the EU. in part, due to onerous legislation? Anyone want to argue that EU legislation was too onerous in this case?

Also, a clear message to anyone in the US looking forward to a more relaxed regulatory environment in the US. Be careful what you wish for.

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