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Grenfell | External walls and cladding not part of fire risk assessments

Grenfell pa (27)

Fire risk assessments “do not have to consider the construction of external walls” including cladding, a fire safety officer told the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

The inquiry heard that the walls of the building do not come under the remit of fire risk assessments, despite the recommendations of the coroner following the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell, south London in 2009.

James Leonard, representing fire safety consultants CS Stokes and Associates, which was responsible for assessing Grenfell Tower, told the inquiry: “It has never been custom practice for fire risk assessments to consider external wall construction”.

Leonard said his client Carl Stokes had carried out risk assessments on the building in 2012, 2014 and twice in 2016, and had gone beyond the recommendations of the fire safety order to seek assurance that the cladding system was safe.

Expert reports published by the inquiry this week revealed that the cladding on the tower was never tested, did not comply with fire regulations, and was incorrectly installed.

However, the company that supplied the cladding panels for the refurbishment of the high-rise block has once again distanced itself from the tragedy during the inquiry.

Stephen Hockman QC, representing the US-based manufacturing company Arconic said the inquiry should consider the impact of the insulation and infill panels chosen to use together with the outer panels.

“The insulation chosen for the project seems to have been the first combustible component in the cladding system which became subject to fire,” Hockman said. “The company was not in any way responsible for the selection or installation of the insulation materials.”

He said at the 10th day of the inquiry in central London that the “supply of such panels was entirely lawful and by no means uncommon circumstances.”

The inquiry into the fire at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London, in the early hours of 14 June 2017, is split into two phases, which will run in parallel.

The first examines what actually happened in the early hours of the morning when the fire broke out. The second phase looks at the refurbishment and how the building was exposed to such a fire risk. 

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