LABC Grenfell Tower update

20.09.2017
News
Grenfell Tower statements and updates

All those working in building control have been deeply shocked by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower and the terrible unexpected extent of the fire raises fundamental questions for all professionals. Our hearts go out to the residents, the bereaved and everyone else involved in the event and aftermath.

You will have read and heard reports within the media of fire tests being undertaken on building materials and in particular rain screen external wall systems using aluminium composite material (ACM) panels. Of the seven full scale tests carried out so far, only 3 have met the test criteria required.

All of the test reports can be found at the DCLG website view on the DCLG website here.

There has been rapid industry-wide cooperation to identify any other buildings that could be at risk with the information being gathered and shared from many different sources. Guidance has been issued by DCLG Advice for building owners: large-scale wall system test 3 on what should be done. 

This has then been shared with individual local authorities, housing associations, property owners, building control bodies and other professional advisors to help decide on the best way forward for building owners and residents.

The Public Inquiry has now commenced and the government has also announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt. Work is already underway on this.

The DCLG have set up the Building Safety Programme for landlords, housing associations and local authorities to help identify buildings of concern.

You can sign up to receive regular updates here.

View the latest updates and statements on Grenfell and its aftermath on our website and we will endeavour to keep you up to date with further guidance, information or advice as and when it becomes available.

The Building Control Alliance represents The Building Control sector and DCLG observers Local Authority Building Control, private sector Approved Inspectors, Chartered Institute of Building, Chartered Association of Building Engineers and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Comments

Surprised

Submitted 3 months ago

I am still surprised that in all this, no mention seems to have been made of the upvc windows.
I have never been a fan of upvc building products, and to me these played a significant part in the spread of the fire. Not only will they burn ferociously once ignited, but they distort quickly when heated and fail to stay in place and prevent fire from spreading. In this case allowing the fire from the burning cladding to enter the flats from outside

I agree

Submitted 3 months ago

I totally agree with your thoughts here and have very frequently thought the same, uPVC must be a fire accelerant. The images during and following the fire clearly show the frames burning and distorting thereby allowing the glass to fall out. Surely it must be time to give a fire rating to external window frames as a composite of the whole window manufacture and installation, both in low rise and high rise buildings.

That said, there was clearly a malfunction in the fire resistance of the buildings' cladding system, fire stopping, insulation, panel manufacture and the whole system of construction of the external building fabric. I assume the cladding was retro fit in order to increase the building's conservation of heat. I think the education of the latest generations arriving in the industry needs to return to basics starting with good construction practice and detailing. Some of the retro fit solutions I have seen beggar belief.

I agree

Submitted 3 months ago

I absolutely concur with this. The fire protection in the flats seems to have been arranged on the assumption that any fire would spread through the common areas. In the event it was moving from the outside in. I wonder also if there was any ceiling void which may have allowed the fire to spread quickly through the depth of the flat.

I am also concerned that the contribution to the fire of burning plastics does not seem to have come up yet. Many residents complained of choking black smoke which is most likely to have arisen from burning insulation, windows and the polythene cores in the cladding. At high enough temperatures the aluminium itself can also burn.

Windows

Submitted 3 months ago

Yes I thought the same thing myself .... The windows in high rise are usually aluminium for this reason arent they ?
It could be another disastrous piece of decision making.

Sprinklers

Submitted 3 months ago

Having lost a group of youngsters in the fire who were part of a group we worked with for a local charity, it is a tragic loss. I can only think mandatory sprinkler systems should be introduced without delay to all such buildings and any new build. This might at least give some chance to contain a fire in the first instance.

Fire spread

Submitted 3 months ago

Sirs,
Regardless of the cause of the fire and the performance of the cladding components, I still do not understand why the fire was able to spread and was not contained within the flat for a much longer period. Once it 'broke out' of the flat locally into the gap between the new and original cladding it was clearly going to spread rapidly. It would also appear that horizontal fire breaks at each floor level were either ineffective or non existent.
We are all looking for answers and some of the early speculation has been unhelpful.
I understand there are some 400+ fires in accommodation each year, but they are largely contained for sufficient time to allow the fire service to prevent an impact upon adjoining dwellings. It is the rapid spread of fire that was so very serious at Grenfell Tower and surely a primary cause of such devastating loss of life.
SF

Evacuation

Submitted 3 months ago

Much is being said about sprinklers however I think more importantly we should be rethinking evacuation strategies, not advising people to remain and await resuce and ensure adequate means of escape is intergal within the building design.

Gap

Submitted 3 months ago

Surely the large gap that is commonly formed between the cladding and the insulation in such systems will also promote the spread of fire through a chimney effect. It is not clear from the building regulations that cavities in this position need fire breaks in them and indeed the manufacturers usually ask for a continuous ventilated void. Surely this should in fact be restricted with a fire-safe break at each floor level and around the perimeter of all the openings?

Building regulations

Submitted 3 months ago

Surely the real problem is that the Building Regulations have become so complicated that no one at the coalface actually understands them any more, and in most cases needs to re-read them and in re-reading them you are not surprised if you interpret them differently.
Added to which most of the Building Control Officers I have been involved with are hard working conscientious people who are struggling to keep on top of their current work load without having to cope with keeping abreast with the ever changing regulations.

Sprinklers

Submitted 3 months ago

I went on a coarse 27 years ago at the Fire training centre at Morton on Marsh. Fire experts were recommending sprinkler systems for high rise and domestic properties. The government could divert C.I.L. monies from new buildings to fund the required works.

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