ACM panel with phenolic foam fails latest fire test

22 August 2017

An aluminium cladding panel combined with phenolic foam insulation has failed the latest large-scale fire test and does not meet Building Regulations guidance.

This is the seventh large-scale test under taken by the BRE in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. 

Initial screening tests have identified 22 buildings above 18 metres in England known to have a combination of ACM with a fire retardant polyethylene filler with phenolic foam insulation, which failed this latest test.

The series of large-scale tests initially included seven combinations of cladding systems. On 8 August, the government announced that on the advice of the expert panel it would undertake a further large-scale test of ACM with fire retardant polyethylene filler (category 2 in screening tests) with phenolic foam insulation.

This is to further build the evidence available for experts and building owners so they can make informed safety decisions.

Results of the final test (ACM with a limited combustibility filler with mineral wool insulation) – and consolidated advice to landlords based on all the seven tests – will be published shortly.

This takes the number of towers in England with cladding that has failed the fire tests to 220.

Some combinations have, however, passed.

Meanwhile, the RIBA has said it is disappointed with the terms of reference of the public inquiry into the Grenfell disaster being conducted.

President Jane Duncan said: “The RIBA is supportive of the aims of Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s inquiry. It is right that the terms of reference includes an examination of the adequacy of building and fire regulations, as well as other areas relating to the construction of Grenfell Tower and other high rise residential buildings.

“It is disappointing, however, that the terms of the inquiry do not explicitly mention the overall regulatory and procurement context for the construction of buildings in the UK.

“We consider this examination crucial to understanding the often complicated division of design responsibilities and the limited level of independent oversight of construction. These pervade many current building procurement approaches prevalent in the public and housing association sectors.

“Such regulatory and procurement concerns should not be dismissed as they would have helped set the full context for the decisions that were made at Grenfell Tower and at other residential buildings.

“This is the missing piece of the puzzle and we will continue to make this case over the course of the inquiry, and to UK government and others.”


When the BRE have completed all the necessary tests, will those buildings which have used cladding systems that have passed the test criteria be identified? Will all remedial works recommended be enforced and buildings provided with certificates of compliance for both Building and Fire Regulations?

Paul Constable, 24 August 2017

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