For 22 years, the UK government has had no fire safety laboratory of its own. The decline of the state building inspector, the privatisation of the BRE – and deep cuts to the civil service since 2010 – meant that the state’s understanding of fire had been allowed to wither away. […] A central problem is that the British state is too inexpert to follow these issues. No-one is in charge. Its usual method of operation is to commission occasional reports and research, but then to ask the businesses engaged in areas of business to consult on what should happen next. Or designing by disaster: waiting for something horrific to go wrong before anyone takes action.