History Repeats Itself

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Why is that, you ask? Because no one ever listens.

We have just witnessed a catastrophic event in Paris. What caused the fire? No one knows, or no one is prepared to say, at the time of writing. But there’s a ring of history here, or what we call ‘Similar Events’ in TOP-SET: the fire at Windsor Castle and the two fires at the Rennie Mackintosh building in Glasgow, both connected with renovation work, and both devastating.

Who’s to blame? The person using the acetylene torch, the electrician, the plumber? Who knows, but there are many other questions we would like to ask, as investigators:

  1. Did anyone actively consider the lessons learned from the other fires mentioned above?
  2. Did the risk assessment, we assume took place, include the provision of a permanent fire watch during the renovation work?
  3. What additional fire-fighting equipment was made available?
  4. Did anyone consider the ‘big picture’, i.e. what if there is a major fire?
  5. What is the cost comparison: a major catastrophic fire, against the provision of a reliable and effective fire-watch?

It’s worthwhile noting that there is some renovation work being carried out at Westminster just now – another ancient building of huge significance to the UK and the entire world, much as is Notre Dame Cathedral. Can we expect another fire there shortly? By the looks of things, that seems perfectly possible – History loves repeating itself. And who will we ‘blame’? Certainly not the electrician or the welder.