Grenfell cladding ‘never fire safety tested’
ANONYMOUS REPORTS claim that the cladding system fitted to Grenfell Tower was ‘never subjected to fire safety testing’ before being installed.
The Independent reported on the claims from sources to The Times that state that the cladding system fitted to Grenfell Tower ‘was never subjected to fire safety testing’, and that the Reynobond aluminium composite material (ACM) panels installed were ‘apparently not put through large-scale lab examinations to test their combustibility before being fitted’. The panels were also found on a wide range of other high rise towers across the UK in the months after the fire.
These sources also claimed that three separate police investigations ‘have yet to uncover any record of independent testing being carried out’ on the cladding, with one stating that ‘the question that has to be asked is how on earth did this material come to be installed on all of those buildings? Somehow or other, those materials have got on to 300 buildings without any tests being done or test results being produced’.
The news outlet stated that the panels, fitted during a refurbishment in 2016, were previously revealed to have been a ‘cheaper but more flammable’ alternative chosen ‘in order to save £293,000’ on the total £9.2m work programme. It also noted that in order to comply with building regulations, external cladding has to either be subjected to lab tests or a ‘desktop study’ that allows it to be signed off ‘if experts say they expect it to behave the same way in a fire as a similar product on the market’.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government ‘did not respond’ to the claims, but did confirm that the department ‘does not believe any wall system containing an ACM category three cladding panel, even when combined with limited combustibility insulation material at its core, would meet current building regulations guidance’. They added that ‘ttose carrying out building work, including the fitting of cladding systems, should comply with the requirements of the building regulations’.
This comes after the recent announcement by insulation manufacturer Celotex that its insulation, which was on Grenfell Tower, ‘had been issued with a fire performance report’ by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) ‘which contained errors’. The manufacturer discovered what it called ‘differences’ between the fire test of the RS5000 foam panels at BRE’s laboratory in 2014 and the ‘crucial write-up’ of the test, or a BR135 report.
In turn, this week saw the news that a combination of foam insulation and aluminium composite material (ACM) panels has been found to have failed fire tests after previously being approved.