Non combustible cladding on fire block

Non combustible cladding on fire block

A FIRE at Grafton House in London last week did not spread ‘extensively’ inside or outside the building, with non combustible cladding used on its exterior.

Inside Housing reported on the fire at the housing association block in a 12th floor flat, which was mostly destroyed, but noted that the building ‘withstood a large blaze’ and was insulated ‘with a non-combustible system’, meaning that the fire ‘did not spread extensively through the inside or outside of the building, with the exception of some damage to the balcony above’. No injuries were reported, with over 50 firefighters attending the blaze.

The building, owned by housing association East End Homes, was found by Inside Housing to have been fitted with a rendered insulation system comprising mineral wool insulation and concrete ‘attached directly to the building without a cavity gap’. It would have an A2 rating for fire safety ‘signifying limited combustibility’, and rendered systems are ‘cheaper to install’ than rainscreen systems, such as that used on Grenfell, ‘but rainscreen cladding is preferred for its appearance’.

In turn, the cavity at Grenfell has been ‘widely blamed for creating a chimney effect’ that allowed fire to ‘shoot’ up the building ‘in minutes and ‘attack the combustible insulation’. Inside Housing pointed out however that many rendered systems use polystyrene insulation ‘which has a much lower fire safety rating’, with images from this latest fire appearing to show damage to windows above the flat of origin caused by fire ‘rolling over’ from one window to another.

In a statement on the blaze, London Fire Brigade stated: ‘Most of a three-roomed flat on the 12th floor was damaged by the fire and part of the balcony of the 13th floor was also damaged. Around 44 people left the building before the brigade arrived and a further two people were led to safety by firefighters. There were no reports of any injuries.’