Construction Materials Testing – Grenfell Tower Inquiry

By 1st November 2019Failure Analysis, fire
construction materials testing

This week has seen the publication of the first report from the official inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy.  Regular readers will remember that Impact raised concerns over the use of Polyethylene in a building product which was designed to be non flammable. View Impact’s previous post about construction materials testing here.

While the press has this week concentrated on the criticism made in the report of the actions of the fire brigade, the inquiry, led by Sir Martin Moore-Blick has also been massively critical of the use of Polyethylene in the cladding.

The report states that “there was compelling evidence that the external walls of the building failed to comply with requirement B4(1) of Schedule 1 to the building regulations, in that they did not adequately resist the spread of fire having regard to the height, use and position of the building. On the contrary, they actively promoted it.

He went further to question the current regulations around construction materials testing regimes, saying “there are grounds for thinking that the current regime for testing the combustibility of materials and cladding systems… may be neither as rigorous nor as effectively enforced as it should be”.  Not stopping there, Sir Martin Moore-Blick went on to suggest that building contractors should not take test results and certification of products at face value, nor accept claims of manufacturers – “Doubts have also arisen about the reliability of the certification of certain materials for use in high-rise buildings. Grave concern inevitably arises simply from the fact that it was possible for highly combustible materials to be used for the purposes of refurbishing and cladding a building like Grenfell Tower. How that was possible is a question that may be relevant to many aspects of the construction industry, including manufacturers of products currently widely available on the market. Pending further investigation it would clearly be sensible for anyone who is responsible for the fire safety of an existing building or who is considering the use of products on high-rise buildings to scrutinise the information about them provided by the manufacturers and exercise considerable care to ensure that they meet the required standards.”

Here at Impact, based on our experience, we always advise contractors to perform due diligence testing on construction products to ensure they comply with the required safety or performance standards.  As a result of many failure analysis and as acting as expert witnesses, Impact has seen the problems caused by the use of substandard materials which lead to costly failures down the line, and in this case an unimaginable tragedy.

To find out more about our construction materials testing and other services, please get in touch with one of the team on 01324 489 182 or email info@impact-solutions.co.uk and we’ll be happy to discuss your needs.