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Over 100 blocks fail latest fire tests

3 August 2017

Image: Wikipedia

The UK government has told the owners of more than 100 residential tower blocks that they should remove the cladding following the latest large-scale fire testing.

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has completed the second in the government’s series of fire safety tests of cladding and insulation combinations.

This test was of a wall cladding system consisting of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with a polyethylene filler (category 3) with stone wool insulation.

A total of 111 buildings are currently known to have this combination of materials in their wall cladding systems – 90 of which are local authority or housing association owned or managed.

The government’s expert panel advises that the results show this combination does not meet current building regulation guidance.

Cladding samples from all these buildings had already been tested and failed earlier combustibility tests conducted by BRE. Building owners were advised to take immediate action by implementing interim safety measures and working with their local fire and rescue service to complete a fire safety audit.

The government release says: “These latest test results reinforce the evidence already provided to these building owners about fire risks.”

Adding to earlier advice provided to them following the initial tests, further detailed advice has been issued to building owners. They need to act on this advice to ensure the safety of residents. The government is working closely with all affected building owners to ensure the advice is being followed.

Last week (28 July) the government announced the independent review of building regulations and fire safety. It will examine the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety as well as related compliance and enforcement issues.

The government’s fire testing programme continues and further test results will be published when they are available.

In its advice the government says: “Put in place a plan to review the cladding system and undertake remedial work, in particular to remove cladding. Based on the test results, the Expert Panel do not believe any combination of ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler and foam insulation would meet current Building Regulations guidance.

“This combination of materials therefore presents a significant hazard on buildings over 18m. Building owners should take professional advice on whether they will also need to remove and replace insulation.”

Large-scale testing of further combinations of ACMs and insulation types continues.

Comments

Surely sorting out this problem commercially is relatively simple as the supply was no doubt caught by the Supply of Goods and Services Act which requires goods to be fit for purpose and these panels obviously were not. These companies generally have huge Product Liability cover which generally covers removal and replacement and possibly consequential losses. It is essential that contractors and suppliers and their insurers are put on notice

David Roberts, 3 August 2017

Is there a published list of the 21 privately owned apartment blocks that have been advised to remove the cladding?

Paul Constable, 3 August 2017

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