Cladding at London Fire site linked to other fires

Nick Myall
Thursday 15 Jun 2017

The investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire in London is likely to focus on why the fire spread so quickly

Similar cladding to that used on the Grenfell Tower has been used on other buildings that have also been involved in fires around the world. 

In January 2016 WAN reported on a fire at a 63 storey Dubai Hotel where it has emerged that the huge fire could have been fuelled by flammable panels ... See links to the orginal story and podcast below.

High rise fires that have spread very quickly have also occured in France and Australia where similar cladding has been used.

The cladding at Grenfell House consisted of two sheets of aluminium with a central core. Manufacturers usually supply two versions of this type of cladding. One has a plastic core which can be flammable and the other has a mineral core which is considered safer. 

According to the BBC the exterior cladding in London, added in 2015, had a polyethylene - or plastic - core instead of an even more fireproof alternative.

Meanwhile, Harley Facades, the company that fitted the panels at Grenfell Tower, have issued a statement saying: "At this time, we are not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower."

Rydon, the company who completed the renovations, said the work met all fire regulations.

They went on to insist that, building control and safety standards had been fully met.

There is also speculation that the air gap between the insulation and the rain-proof aluminium frontage, which creates a 25mm-30mm cavity, created a chimney effect. A wind tunnel would have been created sucking flames up the side of the building, trapping burning material between the rain cladding and the building. 

Experts have also stated that sprinklers could have slowed the spread of the fire and that modern blocks should be built using the principle that every flat is a fire resisting block.

In theory a fire in a flat should completely burn out before it can affect any other flats in the building. However during the course of the recent renovations at Grefell House, fire resistant walls, doors and ceilings may have been compromised. 

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the UK Fire Brigades Union, has said people living in the north Kensington block "have the right" to ask whether the cladding compromised the safety of the building. He has called for an "absolutely thorough investigation" into the fire.

In January 2016 WAN reported on a fire at a Dubai Hotel where it has emerged that the huge fire could have been fuelled by flammable panels which clad the 63-storey skyscraper

Listen to a podcast on the Dubai fire here...

Read our original story on the breaking news from the Grenfell Tower fire here...

Nick Myall

News editor

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