Grenfell refurbishment fire safety report released
A FIRE safety report into the tower’s refurbishment in 2013 was based on plans that did not include cladding, with the report writers not called back to complete the work despite this.
Inside Housing reported on the fire safety report produced by Exova Warringtonfire in October 2013 for Grenfell Tower as part of its refurbishment, with the report not released and studied during the inquiry’s first phase. The news outlet reported that the report had been ‘based on early plans which did not include the cladding’, and that it was ‘never followed up despite a recommendation to do so’.
Exova’s report said that the refurbishment plans would have ‘no adverse effect on the building in relation to external fire spread’, but added that this perspective was to have been ‘confirmed by an analysis in a future version of this report’. It had been based on outline plans for a ‘simple conversion’ of the lower floors to residential use, and did not include the addition of external cladding, as well as the ‘other major changes’ such as new windows.
The company was not asked back to complete the work it would need to with the final plans for refurbishment, with Inside Housing adding that the intention to clad the tower dated back to 2012. Exova stated that it had never seen specifications for cladding when writing the report, and ‘it was not clear why Exova was not asked to comment on plans to fully clad the building, nor why it was not commissioned to complete the follow-up analysis it recommended’.
Exova’s spokesperson commented: ‘Exova was not instructed or engaged to produce a further report, nor was it engaged for the later stages of design, material selection, construction or sign-off of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment project. In particular, Exova did not select, test, review or approve the cladding systems that were finally chosen and installed; nor did it ever have the level of information which would have been needed in order to carry out fire engineering work in relation to use of any system as part of the project.’
The document is called an outline fire safety strategy, and these are ‘written as guidance on how to comply with building regulations when early plans are being drawn up’. Grenfell residents were consulted on what type of cladding should be used in 2012, and selected a ‘fire-retardant zinc material’, but this was later discarded ‘in favour of a cheaper and far more flammable aluminium and polyethylene product’ two years later, combined with combustible plastic insulation.
At the inquiry, one page was only publicly released, while it is expected to be discussed ‘in more detail’ in phase two, starting in 2020.