London’s Grenfell Tower ablaze in the early hours of yesterday morning

Following yesterday’s disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower  near London’s Shepherd’s Bush, the UK Government is now initiating an urgent study of all refurbished tower blocks on which exterior cladding has been installed.

The Daily Mail has reported that Grenfell Tower was equipped with overcladding by East Sussex-based company Harley Facades Limited in a contract valued at £2.6 million.

External cladding of various makes is widely used throughout the world. The cladding has the advantage that it acts like a giant “tea-cosy” on a building and provides better heat insulation for tenants  – making their properties warmer and reducing heating costs .

The smart-looking newly-refurbished Vale of Glamorgan Council flats in St Luke’s Avenue have all had insulation cladding installed on their outside walls and covered with a layer of cream render.

In Penarth, external cladding – made in Poland and NOT of the same type used on the Grenfell Tower – has recently  been installed on the outside walls of Vale of Glamorgan Council-owned apartment blocks in St Luke’s Avenue and on other nearby social housing blocks.

Once covered with render – as in the St Luke’s Avenue homes –  there’s nothing to indicate external cladding is present (other  than that the external dimensions of the building are  slightly larger than they were before).

However – long before yesterday’s tragic fire – some experts were expressing concerns that if the external cladding catches fire in multi- storey buildings, such fires can have “devastating effects on human life, business and property”.

The warning published on its “Redbook” website by the BRE Trust- a registered charity that “works to advance knowledge, innovation and communication in the built environment” . It evaluates building products and fire safety systems

The building industry “Redbook” – produced by the research charity the BRE Trust –  issued a  press release some time ago warning of the potential fire dangers involved in installing external cladding:-

Industry expert  Tony Baker of BRE Global had written   “If a fire in a room on a lower storey of a multi-storey building breaks out of a window or door opening, there is potential for fire to spread quickly up the external cladding system and break back into the building through windows in upper stories. The same concern applies with an accidental or malicious external fire started in a wheelie bin or an area of stored materials. This form of fire spread has the potential to escalate rapidly potentially breaching compartmentation within the building, reducing the time or options available for evacuation and the ability to contain the fire.

The type of cladding installed at St Luke’s Avenue and other Vale of Glamorgan properties is certified by the British Agrement Board and has a “reaction to fire classification B -s1, d0 in accordance with BS EN 13501” .[ the “EN” letters indicate this is a common standard across the whole of the EU] .

The type of cladding applied at St Luke’s Avenue is not certified for use in  buildings greater than 18 metres in height, but is said to  meet all the current building regulations.

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  1. Joe blow says:

    Chalk and cheese. The Grenville cladding was plastic and aluminium, with an air gap producing a chimney effect.

    This cladding is totally different, with no air gap and non flammable render.

    Tenants should not worry about a towering inferno at St Lukes or St Augustines where they have the Same.

    • AK says:

      Pretty impressive conclusions considering the experts are still assessing the London tragedy.

      Have you offered them your obvious expertise and knowledge? Could save the investigation massive amounts of time and money.

      • Lucie says:

        Can we all take time to think about the poor people who have lost there loved ones,so so sad.

      • Joe blow says:

        I’m just repeating what most reputable news sources have said throughout the day. In any case, this article is about the Penarth properties, some of which I have been watching being renovated and are totally different.

        I am quite confident that my information will be found to be correct.

Comments are closed.