Leaked Grenfell report alleges five key failings
A leaked BRE report into the Grenfell Tower disaster on 14 June last year, which killed 71 people, has alleged five key failings in the refurbishment of the building.
The 210-page document prepared by BRE for the Metropolitan Police to assist with the investigation has been leaked to the Evening Standard.
It found that had Grenfell not been reclad as part of a refurbishment between 2014 and 2016, then the fire that devastated the building would probably have been contained in the flat it started in.
The document, which the Evening Standard reported was labelled “draft” and was dated 31 January 2018, lists five areas where Building Regulations were allegedly breached during the refurbishment.
- Gaps of up to 15cm between the window frames and concrete columns because the windows installed were too narrow. According to BRE’s report, the gaps were filled with a rubberised membrane, rigid foam insulation and uPVC lightweight plastic panels.
- The cavity barriers, meant to seal the gap between the original concrete surface of the building and the new cladding were not big enough to fulfil their function, creating a “chimney-like” effect between the tower’s inner and outer skin. Some cavity barriers were allegedly installed “upside down” or “back to front”.
- The BRE’s report said that the insulation used in the facade was found to be “combustible”.
- Aluminium composite material used in the facade had a polyethylene core that “appears to be highly combustible” and “appears to have provided a medium for fire to spread up and across the facade”.
- The absence of “door closers” on many front doors to flats, contrary to Building Regulations, resulted in a significant number of doors being inadvertently left open when residents fled, the report alleges.
The report also asserted that the building should have been installed with a wet rising main to assist with firefighting, while there was room for just a “single fire engine” on the hard standing at the base of the east side of the tower.
In a statement, BRE said: “BRE has been under contract to the Met Police to provide expert advice in their investigation following the Grenfell fire.”
It referred any further enquiries to the Metropolitan Police.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police said it was “disappointed” that the BRE’s draft report had been leaked.
A spokesperson said: “The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) continues to actively investigate the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower, as a result of which 71 people lost their lives.
“We have made it clear from the outset that this is a wide-ranging criminal investigation that will examine all possible offences and breaches of regulations.
“That includes a detailed and thorough examination of how the fire started, and how and why it spread. The investigation focuses upon the original construction of the building, all the changes made over the decades and the most recent refurbishment.
“That includes not just the cladding system, but all the fire doors, windows, building management, and how all of those elements reacted together.
“We are using a range of specialists and experts to provide the full detailed analysis needed as part of our robust investigation.
“Our aim is to carry out an investigation that has integrity and if it uncovers evidence that any individual or organisation is criminally culpable we want that evidence to be tested through the judicial system.
“As such we are disappointed that an interim draft report appears to have been leaked and published. To protect the integrity of the investigation the MPS will not confirm specifics of the ongoing investigation.
“The MPS has made it clear that at the heart of our investigation is and will continue to be the families of those who lost their lives; those for whom Grenfell Tower was home and the local community so impacted by events that night.
“Phase One of the Public Inquiry is also looking at the events that took place on 14 June.”
The public inquiry into the disaster is due to start on 21 May.
Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety is due to publish its finding this spring.