Government widens cladding risk probe
The government is in the process of assessing risks from non-ACM (aluminium composite material) cladding, as it widens the scope of its investigations following the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The news emerged in an advice note issued yesterday by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for owners of buildings which include spandrel panels, window panels and infill panels.
The government said it was working with an expert panel to determine whether or not further advice and guidance in relation to non-ACM risks should be provided. In the meantime, it is advising building owners not to delay the removal of spandrels where they are assessed to be unsafe.
It advised building owners to seek information about the panels from design information records but also to check that product substitution had not taken place on site.
“Where the panel product type can be confirmed on the building (ie by labelling), building owners should check the fire performance with the manufacturer by requesting test certification.
"Where there is no information about the panel or there is uncertainty, it will be necessary to investigate the panel composition by sample testing. Building owners should seek professional advice and take precautions to avoid releasing hazardous materials such as asbestos which may be present,” the advice said.
It recommended that following sampling, any damage which would otherwise increase the fire risk, such as by exposing a combustible core, would have to be remediated.
It added: “The expert panel’s view is that for building’s over 18m, the clearest way to ensure they do not present a risk of fire spread is to confirm that materials are limited combustibility or better. Where the panels do not meet this classification, the most appropriate means of remediation is to remove and replace the panels however professional advice should be sought first.”