Dezeen Magazine

Cladding passes fire safety test ordered following Grenfell Tower blaze

A safety test carried out on a variation of the aluminium cladding blamed for the spread of the fire at Grenfell Tower has shown the design complies with current building regulations.

It is the fourth of six such fire safety tests carried out by Building Research Establishment (BRE).

The UK government ordered the tests of cladding used on buildings over 18 metres high in the aftermath of the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower in west London in June.

The six tests are investigating whether various combinations of aluminium composite material (ACM) panels and insulation are compliant with current building regulations.

The cladding system, comprising aluminium panels with a fire-resistant polyethylene filler and mineral wool insulation, was deemed compliant with current building regulations – when installed and maintained properly.

There are 13 buildings over 18 metres in height across England known to use this particular cladding system.

"It could therefore offer a possible solution for some buildings with other cladding systems, which have been identified as a hazard," said a statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

"However the expert panel note that cladding and insulation materials can vary between manufacturers and can have different calorific values. The way materials have been fitted and maintained can also affect the safety of the cladding system."

The first cladding system to fail the test was a mock-up of that used to renovate Grenfell Tower and blamed for the spread of the fatal fire that broke out on 14 June, killing at least 80 people.

The design, which coupled aluminium panels with a combustible polyethylene plastic core and PIR plastic foam insulation, was slammed by Newsnight's policy editor Chris Cook as "an absolute failure".

Each test is carried out using a nine-metre-high mock-up of the complete cladding system at BRE's testing centre in Watford, near London.

An independent review of building regulations and fire safety is currently underway.

Read more about the Grenfell Tower fire ›