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Fire services to probe cladding role in Bolton blaze

18 November 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: GMFRS

The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is to examine the role cladding played in a fire at a six-storey block of student accommodation, in which two people were injured.

Fire took hold in the second of two blocks in The Cube student accommodation development on Bradshawgate on Friday evening (15 November). The fire was reported to have spread “extremely quickly” up the exterior of the building, according to officers on the scene.

At its height, around 200 firefighters were tackling the blaze, with 40 fire engines, three aerial platforms and other specialist appliances in use.

GMFRS said in a statement yesterday that it inspected the building in 2017, following the Grenfell Tower disaster, and determined that it did not have ACM cladding. The larger of the two blocks at The Cube is classified as a high-rise building. The second building, which was involved in the fire, is under 18m and not classified as a high-rise building. Both have fire alarm systems and operate a simultaneous evacuation strategy.

The fire service said it requested for the 2017 fire risk assessment to be reviewed and the materials used in the external wall system to be identified and assessed.

GMFRS added: “This assessment was shared with GMFRS and in 2018, subsequent work was undertaken to both buildings by the building owners.

“Following the fire our investigation will consider the materials used within the external wall construction and what if any role these materials played in the development and spread of fire. This investigation will be complex and take some time. No further information about the external wall system will be released at this stage.”

Building manager Valeo Urban Student Life (USL), which stressed it did not play a role in the construction of the building, said in a statement: “Valeo USL is deeply sorry that the fire in the Cube building it operates in Bolton has displaced all of the 221 students that were resident in the building and is of course concerned about the distress and disruption that the blaze has caused to the lives of those students.”

Comments

I am afraid that the Fire Brigade has it wrong about the second block - It is over 18m in height. There is a car park below the building with 6 storeys of flats above. check google streetview

https://www.google.com/maps/@53.5773479,-2.4250317,3a,75y,266.31h,112.59t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1shKB56ol5AAEWJjh5uYSFEQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

To see the construction go to:-

https://www.google.com/maps/@53.5773274,-2.4250908,3a,83y,277.89h,123.37t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sn3pOGJGmLLXpz5OZEkZxYw!2e0!5s20150801T000000!7i13312!8i6656

Where you see the site board on first floor zoom in and you can see the insulation - you can also pick out the Tyvek , the plywood, the vertical timbers and no vertical cavity barriers or horizontal floor level fire stops.

There are power sockets in external walls - go to

https://www.google.com/maps/@53.5772616,-2.4256463,3a,90y,228.93h,86.93t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sAF1QipPT3vsVBebRJ4oM7cRwnBVUpfQ9hhRgobm8U9lo!2e10!7i9664!8i4832

Construction:-
Kingspan Therma TP10 (see the green marking) - fire rating E
Plywood - fire rating D
Tyvek - fire rating E
Timber 50 x 100 mm - fire rating D
HPL - fire rating D - C if you are lucky.

The back boxes will be plastic cavity fittings. If you are lucky there will be a putty pad inside it but as the fire is coming from the cavity the putty pads will do nothing and the back box will have melted and the sockets fallen out.

Even if the cladding were class A1 the fire would have spread rapidly through the wall. I cannot see fire stopping slowing the spread much as the plywood would burn away.

Arnold Tarling, 18 November 2019

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