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New report calls for ban on all Grenfell-style materials

grenfell tribute

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called for a blanket ban on all combustible materials.

Following its own investigation, RIBA has urged the government to ban all combustible materials such as the cladding used at Grenfell Tower.

The architectural body has submitted its evidence to the government’s consultation on banning the use of combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise residential buildings.

RIBA executive director professional services Adrian Dobson said: “Continuing to allow materials of ‘limited combustibility’ (A2 classification) is unacceptable in the wake of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower and the evidence from the UK and around the world that these materials do not provide adequate protection for the public.

“There is a lot of confusion in the industry over what materials are, and should be, permitted on both new buildings and in the retro-fitting of existing buildings. Banning these materials is the first step towards restoring the trust in our regulatory system and the building industry.”

Last month, ex-LFB “City Father” Stephen Lashmar told New Civil Engineer that materials present in the Grenfell Tower disaster – such as the combustible cladding and UPVC window frames – would “never have been allowed” under previous measures scrutinised by the local authority District Surveyor.

It has also been revealed that fire services flagged safety risks at Grenfell Tower a year before blaze.

 RIBA recommendations:

• A ban on combustible materials in external wall construction on buildings over 18m in height must be imposed.

• Within external wall construction, the ban should restrict sheathing boards, insulation and outermost cladding products to European classification A1 products only. The ban should not include the buildings primary structure. The primary structure should have adequate fire protection (see Building Regulations Requirement B3).*

• The ban should restrict window spandrels, balconies, brise soleil, and similar building elements to European classification A1 products only

• The ban should restrict plasterboard to European Classification A2-s1, d0 products and above only.

• Non-combustible cladding – significant products in external wall construction for existing or new buildings over 18m in height must be certified ‘non-combustible’ (European classification A1) products only.

• More than one means of escape – in all new multiple occupancy residential buildings, a requirement for at least two staircases, offering alternative means of escape, where the top floor is more than 11m above ground level or the top floor is more than three storeys above the ground level storey (as required for commercial buildings).

• Sprinklers – retro-fitting of sprinklers / automatic fire suppression systems and centrally addressable fire alarm systems to existing residential buildings above 18m from ground level as ‘consequential improvements’ where a building is subject to ‘material alterations’.

• Mandatory requirement for sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems and addressable central fire alarms in all new and converted residential buildings, as already required in Wales.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • This report and its conclusions are clear and concise, unlike the non-committal Hackitt review. Perhaps some engineers these days are incapable of reading public opinion and leading the way. Anybody going to bother to respond? No?

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