Safety checks following Grenfell Tower
The Department of Local Government and Communities (DCLG) has contacted local authorities following the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. Fire safety checks are being carried out on residential tower blocks particularly over 18m to ensure the appropriate safety and response measures are in place. The Grenfell Tower police-led investigation is underway, but it will be some time before we fully understand how the fire started or why it took hold in the way it did. We know that in the meantime there is significant anxiety amongst residents about whether their own blocks are safe.
There has been much public concern and comment about potential flaws in the cladding that was on Grenfell Tower. While the exact reasons for the speed of the spread of fire have yet to be determined, DCLG has concluded that there are additional tests that can be undertaken with regard to the cladding. DCLG is asking local authorities, other registered providers of social housing and residential landlords to identify whether any panels used in new build or refurbishment are a particular type of cladding made of Aluminium Composite Material.
More details on how to identify this cladding are in the Technical Note information below and the Homes and Communities Agency can offer expert support in surveying your properties if necessary. It is important to stress that Aluminium Composite Material cladding is not in itself dangerous, but it is important that the right type is used.
If you identify that cladding on any of your buildings is made of Aluminium Composite Material, then a sample will need to be tested. DCLG has put in place a testing process for any samples, which will be available to residential landlords in addition to local authorities and registered providers. Please contact the department at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries. The National Housing Federation and the Homes and Communities Agency can also offer you support.
Local authorities have been asked by DCLG to make residential landlords in their area aware of this offer.
DCLG has also pointed out that fire assessments carried out to comply with the Fire Safety Order are unlikely to have considered the building’s cladding. The Local Government Association’s Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats remains the most comprehensive guidance on ensuring fire safety in these types of buildings.
A detailed testing process for buildings with external Aluminum Composite cladding has been prepared by the Building Research Establishment and is available in appropriate cases. Where Aluminium Composite Material is suspected, further advice should be sought from DCLG at email@example.com
DCLG is working with the Local Government Association, National Housing Federation and fire and rescue services on further support that will be made available to landlords where screening indicates further action may be necessary.
Cannock Chase Council would like to take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your efforts to carry out checks on your properties, ensuring the appropriate safety and response measures are in place and reassuring residents.
- Technical Note
Identification of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding
Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) is a type of flat panel that consists of two thin aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core, typically between 3 and 7mm thick. The panels can have a painted or metallic finish (eg copper or zinc effects).
It can be differentiated from a solid aluminium sheet by looking at a cut edge whereby the lamination is visible. It may be necessary to cut a hole in a panel if a cut edge is not readily accessible.
On buildings with a floor over 18m above ground level, where ACM panels are identified, it is necessary to establish whether the panels are of a type that complies with the Building Regulations guidance ie the core material should be a material of limited combustibility or Class A2².
To allow for the identification of core materials the Government is putting in place testing capacity that will allow a small sample of the cladding to be tested and its type identified.
It is recommended that, where ACM panels have been identified, landlords of private rented properties should begin taking steps to establish that they are of limited combustibility, and to submit samples for testing. DCLG will provide further detailed information about the procedures for submitting test samples
² Material of Limited combustibility as described in Table A7 of Approved Document B (Vol 2) Class A2-s3,d2 or better in accordance with BS EN 13501-1