Grenfell Tower fire probe focuses on cladding

Aaron Morby 2 weeks ago
Share

Fire investigators will focus today on how the Grenfell tower blaze spread so rapidly jumping up the exterior of the building from the fourth floor to top in just 15 minutes.

Grenfell tower

A key area of investigation will be the common rainscreen system used on the Grenfell Tower, which is designed to include fire-breaks at every floor and around every window.

Experts believe this may have failed with the void between the aluminium panels and building fabric acting as a chimney to spread the fire.

The system has been used on many tower block revamps and the Government has now ordered checks on all buildings in the UK that have been revamped in recent years.

Chris Miers, a forensic architect, said: “I was surprised to see the extent of fire and its rapid spread. The risk is if the void is not adequately subdivided it would act as a chimney.”

The building was overclad with with Aluminium Composite Material cassette rainscreen. This consists of two thin aluminium sheets sandwiching a core material. The panels are available with polyethylene or less flamable mineral cores.

Russ Timpson of the tall building fire safety network, said: “In the UK cladding has to be of limited combustibility. I’m sure it will be questioned what exactly this means and what these types of cladding systems are adding to the fire load of a building.”

The cladding system employs a void behind the panel to vent moisture. An intumescent strip is designed to be installed at regular intervals to expand in the event of fire to become a cavity barrier.

Cladding contractor Harley Curtain Wall fell into administration shortly after completing the £2.6m Grenfell Tower project.

Main contractor Rydon, which delivered the £8.6m upgrade to the Grenfell Tower in 2016 as part of a £57m borough-wide regeneration in Kensington & Chelsea, said it had met “all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards”.

“We will cooperate with the relevant authorities and emergency services and fully support their enquiries into the causes of this fire at the appropriate time.

“Given the ongoing nature of the incident and the tragic events overnight, it would be inappropriate for us to speculate or comment further at this stage.”

Both firms also delivered a bigger project, the Chalcot Estate in north London, which involved using similar systems to reclad five blocks as part of an £18m revamp.

The Chalcot estate in Swiss Cottage consists of 706 homes in five tower blocks -Taplow, Bray, Burnham, Dorney, and Blashford – rising to 23 storeys.

 

 

Latest news

South African construction giant buys into Byrne Group

Johannesburg-listed construction giant Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon eyes UK opportunity
38 mins ago

Crewe crane collapse victim was teenager on first job

Police identify both victims after crane came down while being erected
2 days ago

Rotherham unveils new town centre revamp plan

Ambitious regeneration plan focused on Forge Island area of the town
1 hour ago

Premier Modular bags £225m offsite housing deal

Central Housing Investment Consortium picks Premier for volumetric housing
3 hours ago

Singapore developer gets green light for £130m London flats

Final stage of Wandsworth's Riverside Quarter to start next year
3 hours ago

Every tower block checked so far fails fire tests

Cladding on 60 high-rise blocks in 25 local authorities fails combustibility tests
1 day ago

Willmott Dixon wins Old Admirality Building refurb

Contractor takes-on job originally earmarked for BAM
7 hours ago

Michelmersh buys Yorkshire brick maker for £31m

Deal for Carlton Main Brickworks will boost output to 100m units a year
6 hours ago

Celotex to stop supply of Grenfell insulation to towers

Insulation giant halts supply for rainscreen cladding systems to high-rise buildings
3 days ago

Crane drops 500 scaffold fittings on worker

Court hears how victim suffered three fractures and cuts to her head
7 hours ago

Council chief sounds warning over Battersea build costs

Wandsworth planning chairman claims project is facing "significant challenges"
3 days ago

Sisk seals £190m Quintain Wembley Park resi block

Builder also in talks about a further 500 homes next to Canada Court plot
6 hours ago

Police consider manslaughter charges after Grenfell fire

Detectives "seizing relevant material from a number of organisations"
3 days ago

Over 200 Birmingham tower blocks to get sprinklers

Council could delay its building projects to fund £31m retrofit programme
3 days ago

First tests reveal combustible cladding on 11 towers

Up to 600 towers need to be checked
4 days ago

Safety alarm raised over fall in HSE construction visits

Surprise site visits by inspectors drop by 14%
3 days ago

Plans for 35-storey Manchester student tower

Unite unveils plan for 600-bed student block near Oxford Road station
3 days ago

London’s Camden Council to strip cladding from five towers

Chalcots Estate project was delivered by Grenfell contractors Rydon and Harley Facades
4 days ago

Contractors urged to stop asking site chefs for skills cards

Firms urged to use common sense over allowing non-construction staff on sites
3 days ago

Planning thumbs up for £150m Lincoln shopping centre

St Marks shopping centre owner Standard Life plans to start work in 2020
3 days ago

Two killed in crane collapse on Crewe construction site

Tower crane comes down on Seddon site
5 days ago

Berkeley cleared to fast-track scheme for Grenfell survivors

Homes and Communities Agency strike deal to buy Kensington Row luxury apartment scheme
5 days ago

Buckingham Group targets £500m revenue in 2018

Profits soar as firm eyes swelling pipeline of stadium projects.
5 days ago

Five more Edinburgh schools found with building defects

Investigation reveals more schools in Edinburgh suffered wall-tie defects
4 days ago

Galliford/Lagan jv wins £135m RAF Marham hangar

New hangar will house a dozen F-35B vertical take-off jets
5 days ago

CIOB sets up commission to probe control of build quality

Paul Nash to lead urgent review into behaviour that undermines quality in construction
5 days ago

Barratt names new finance boss

Barratt promotes Jessica White to top financial executive
4 days ago

Opinion: Construction must say never again to another Grenfell

The industry must break with its lowest cost culture
5 days ago

Profits soar at Berkeley despite housing market uncertainty

Berkeley worried about Brexit impact on skills as half its site labour comes from EU
5 days ago

Hewden sell-off raises £120m but trade creditors get pennies

More than £41m was owed to plant hire giant's trade creditors
5 days ago

Contractor services