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Grenfell | 82 buildings 'fail' first large scale fire safety tests

Grenfell fire

The government has announced 82 buildings have the same combination of materials in their wall cladding as that which has “failed” the latest large scale fire safety tests.

The first series of tests carried out at Building Research Establishment (BRE) examined a build-up of materials consisting of ACM (aluminium composite material) with polyethylene filler (Category 3) and foam insulation, with ”fire breaks and cavity barriers in place”. An expert panel has advised the results mean the combination did “not meet current building regulation guidance”.

Of the 82 buildings the government says has the same make up, it said 47 were in local authority or housing association owned or managed buildings and it had issued advice to building owners known to be affected.

The ‘system test’ assesses the fire safety of whole buildings.

After the Grenfell disaster, tests were carried out on parts of the cladding in isolation, but on the advice from the Independent Expert Advisory Panel, tests on the complete facade were started.

In the tests, three different types of ACM cladding are being combined with two different types of insulation to test their combustibility when put together. Six combinations are being tested in total.

Each test involves building a 9m high demonstration wall with a complete cladding system including cladding panels, insulation and cavity barriers. The arrangement is then subjected to a replica of a severe fire inside a flat as it spreads out of a window. The requirement to resist vertical fire spread is then tested.

The Independent Expert Advisory Panel said: “This next phase of testing provides further information for landlords to make informed decisions about what actions to take to ensure the safety of residents and reassure the public.

“This reconfirms the advice already provided to building owners about the immediate steps they should take to ensure buildings are safe.

“Landlords of buildings with cladding using the same combination of materials as in this first full scale test must now act on the additional advice they have been given since this test, to seek professional advice about any necessary remedial work.”

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