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Grenfell | 13 tall buildings 'fail' third round of testing

Grenfell Tower

The government has said that 13 tall buildings have a cladding system that has ‘failed’ the third round of combustibility tests, which have been undertaken in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

So far all cladding combinations and samples tested in the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) fire resistance tests would not meet building regulations requirements, according to a government-appointed advisory panel. An independent review of current building regulations and fire safety in tall buildings is to be carried out as a result, led by EFF chair Dame Judith Hackitt.

The large-scale tests follow criteria set out in British Standard 8414-1, and the results are checked for compliance with BR135. This is the second route to fire safety compliance as set out in Building Regulations 2010. Rather than testing a sample of cladding, an entire 9m high cladding system is built and then burnt to test how fire spreads across the surface.

After the first large-scale tests, 82 buildings were found to have the same failed cladding combination, which was ACM cladding with polyethylene filler and foam insulation. The second round tested the same type of ACM cladding with stone wool insulation. A further 111 buildings were identified as having this failed cladding system.

The third, most recent test combined ACM cladding material with a fire retardant polyethylene filler, with rigid polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam insulation.

It failed to meet minimum timing requirements before combustion as described in BS 8414-1, and therefore could not be classified under BR135. During the test, flames also spread above the 9m cladding system. All 13 buildings known to have this cladding combination had already ‘failed’ the initial BRE-led tests.

Originally six different cladding and insulation combinations were to be tested but the Independent Expert Advisory Panel, led by BRE chief executive Peter Bonfield, has recommended a seventh test be carried out. A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said details of the extra test, and the reasons for it, would be released in due course.

Following the latest test results, the Local Government Association (LGA) called on the government to provide funding to replace “failed” cladding systems.

“With test fails affecting buildings owned by a range of different landlords across the country, it is clear that the current building regulation system has failed,” said an LGA spokesperson.

”We need a commitment from government that it will meet the exceptional cost to councils of removing and replacing cladding and insulation on high-rise blocks as a result.”

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