Emails reveal key Grenfell firms knew cladding would fail in blaze

Aaron Morby 4 years ago

Emails revealed in the second day of evidence to the Grenfell Inquiry suggest that architect Studio E, contractor Rydon, facade subcontractor Harley and fire consultant Exova knew cladding panels would fail in the event of an external fire.

Emails reveal fire consultant, architect, main contractor and facade contractor new cladding would fail in external fire
Emails reveal fire consultant, architect, main contractor and facade contractor new cladding would fail in external fire

Insulation manufacturer Celotex – which itself has been accused of producing misleading market information about product performance – revealed a crucial email exchange regarding the use of fire stopping.

In emails between staff at the firms, a technical manager at Harley said: “there is no point in ‘fire stopping’, as we all know; the ACM will be gone rather quickly in a fire!”

In another email fire consultant Exova, accepted the zinc cladding being considered at the time would fail if there were external flames.

In response, an architect at Studio E said that “metal cladding always burns and falls off”.

In its evidence Celotex said: “None of the individuals involved in the March 2015 email exchange have sought to explain how their knowledge that the cladding would fail in the event of a fire with external flaming can be reconciled with their responsibility as designers, contractors or consultants to ensure, or exercise reasonable care to ensure, that the rainscreen cladding system on Grenfell Tower complied” with building regulations relating to the spread of fire.

The inquiry heard that there was no indication that any of those involved contemplated requesting a full-scale test of the proposed system.

Evidence from fire consultant Exova revealed that the Grenfell Tower was originally expected to be clad in zinc.

But value engineering led to the use of cheaper ACM cladding saving £454,000, according to a Harley estimate.

It said that when Rydon was appointed, it was on the basis of employer’s requirements which specified zinc cladding with an aluminium honeycomb core; and contemplated that alternative materials might be used but must comply with prevailing fire regulations.

“It was only later that – evidently guided by the pressure to cut costs – Rydon (together with Studio E and Artelia, and with support from Harley) pursued, and obtained client KCTMO’s approval for the change to ACM,” said Exova.

The fire consultant added that it was only then that work on designing the cladding system commenced, under a team that comprised Rydon, Studio E, and Harley.

The inquiry continues today with cladding manufacturer Arconic providing its opening statement.

Latest news

Taylor Wimpey sees tender inflation fall to 1%

House builder retenders site work as build costs slide
9 hours ago

Costain trials electric vans on major civils sites

Green vans meet "tight budgetary requirements" in pilot scheme
2 hours ago

Careys back in profit after £47m turnaround

Contracting division back in profit ahead of three-year growth plan
1 day ago

Rye Demolition goes into administration

Another specialist contractor goes under
9 hours ago

Historic breakthrough for HS2’s longest tunnel drive

TBM Florence ends her 10 mile journey under the Chilterns
22 hours ago

Volumetric builder Tide seals deal to start London tower

32-storey North Acton tower will consist of 462 co-living units
9 hours ago

Costain moves HQ to London’s Can of Ham

Contractor makes return to London from Maidenhead base
18 hours ago

Former Keltbray highways MD joins McAlpine

Vip Gandhi takes lead role at Transport division
1 day ago

Willmott Dixon exits stage left from Essex theatre contract

Contract re-tendering shines spotlight on growing schism between contractors and clients
1 day ago

Purpose build student schemes to surge again

Unite assembles record £1.3bn pipeline as fall in HMO supply boosts PBSA sector
1 day ago

Bidding starts for £1.4bn Midlands Rail Hub Alliance

Alliance will deliver upgrades to rail lines and stations around Birmingham and nearby towns
1 day ago

Brickability sounds warning over materials demand

Distributor sees lower sales lasting for longer before house building recovers
1 day ago

English Cities Fund raises extra £200m for work pipeline

Muse, Homes England, L&G partnership to double in size
1 day ago

Go-ahead for 64 homes at former Glasgow Coliseum theatre

Robertson-owned developer Urban Union to build four housing blocks at site
1 day ago

Competition probe launched into 8 major house builders

Cartel watchdog says volume house builders may have exchanged competitively sensitive information
2 days ago

Cement-free concrete firm falls into administration

DB Group also owned Pudlo waterproofing products
2 days ago

Everton Stadium now structurally complete

Laing O'Rourke lifts final concrete terrace section into place
2 days ago

HS2 launches third London Northolt tunnel TBM

1,700 tonne machine begins 3.4mile dig under the capital
2 days ago

Willmott Dixon set for Manchester science park job

Contractor understood to be in final stages of talks to land £75m Greenheys building
5 days ago

Transport jobs get £4.7bn of cancelled HS2 cash

Government details funding for North and Midlands from 2025
2 days ago

Stewart Milne went down owing supply chain £153m

So far 1,375 firms have come forward with unpaid bills
6 days ago

Didcot disaster investigation enters its ninth year

Still no answers for families of quartet killed in demolition collapse
5 days ago

Mount Anvil wins £275m Westminster estate renewal

First phase of Church Street area regeneration will deliver 400 new homes and a library
6 days ago

Trio of A47 road upgrades to go-ahead as legal challenge fails

20-month delay adds tens of millions to dualling costs
6 days ago

Skanska and Morgan Sindall win £277m duo of Cambridge jobs

Railpen awards £200m Botanic Place and £77m Devonshire Gardens office jobs
6 days ago

Offsite specialist Merit sees profits grow

Contractor sees further growth in turnover and profits
5 days ago

Morgan Sindall delivers another record year of profit

Revenue tops £4bn as pre-tax profit soars 70% to £144m
6 days ago

Galliford Try nets two pipelines and road job worth £98m

Firm wins £64m of Thames Water pipelines and Halifax road improvements
5 days ago

HS2 viaduct blunder over wonky concrete segments

Align JV now drilling out concrete joint as part of week-long remedial work
1 week ago

City of London hots up as 9m sq ft under construction

Investors return to City as "10 Cheesgraters" of floorspace under construction
7 days ago

Contractor services