200 tower blocks now fail after latest fire tests

8 August 2017

More than 200 tower blocks so far have been found to be clad in a combination of materials that do not meet the Buildings Regulations.

The third in the the government’s series of fire safety tests of cladding and insulation combinations has been completed by the BRE which adds another 13 blocks to the 82 and 111 which failed the first and second of the large-scale tests.

The tests allow experts to better understand how different types of cladding panels behave with different types of insulation in a fire.

This third test was of a wall cladding system consisting of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with a fire retardant polyethylene filler (category 2 in screening tests) with PIR foam insulation.

Six different combinations of large-scale testing are being carried out in the wake of the Grenfell fire. The first was carried out with a combination of aluminium panels with a combustible polyethylene plastic core and combustible PIR plastic foam insulation.

The system matches that used to reclad the Grenfell Tower, ahead of the fatal fire that broke out on 14 June and killed at least 80.  

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

There are up to 13 buildings over 18 metres tall in England known to have a combination of ACM with a fire retardant polyethylene filler with PIR foam insulation.

Cladding samples from each of these buildings had already failed earlier combustibility tests conducted by Building Research Establishment (BRE) and their owners were sent government advice detailing the immediate interim safety measures that needed to be completed.

These latest test results provide building owners with further evidence about fire risks.

The government announced the independent review of the Building Regulations and fire safety on 28 July 2017. This forward looking review 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.

Image: ChiralJon/Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

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