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    • CommentAuthorSilky
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017 edited
     
    http://www.knaufinsulation.co.uk/news/news-residential/10m-tower-renovation-london

    apparently the cladding went up like a match stick.. I wonder what type of insulation was under there, if it was Polystyrene then surely this is a major FU!
    • CommentAuthorJeff B
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    Certainly looks like the fire was spread via the cladding. Flames from the window of the flat on the first floor where the fire started got into the cladding and then shot upwards. Wow, what are the implications for other similar refurbishments?
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017 edited
     
    This was discussed couple of years back here. Similar incident in Germany IIRC.

    Found it, even bookmarked it.

    http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=9820
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    They seem to have removed the page Silky?

    Here's the text from Google's cache:


    Grenfell Tower in west London is set to benefit from a new £10 million investment that will see a range of energy-efficient renovations be carried out at the property.

    The building is to receive attention under the ongoing Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation regeneration scheme, Construction Enquirer reports.

    It will see the installation of a new curtain wall facade and the replacement of windows across the building's 24 storeys. In addition, a new heating system is to be put in place, as well as the provision of improved levels of insulation to ensure the new set-up works to its optimal efficiency.

    Simon Lawrence, project manager at Rydon Maintenance, commented: "We look forward to starting work regenerating Grenfell Tower and delivering improved, fuel-efficient homes for residents."

    He added any disruption to the local community will be kept to a minimum for the duration of the renovation programme.

    Knauf Insulation provides sustainable insulation solutions for loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and solid wall insulation.


    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:vN7a9Xi3Rd0J:www.knaufinsulation.co.uk/news/news-residential/10m-tower-renovation-london+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

    Elsewhere I see it termed alu composite - what is the make up and what is the actual insulant?
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017 edited
     
    Suggestions abound that the insulant is PE and it was not properly flame retardant.

    Is this a failure of design or procurement - should it be flame retardant, and they've bought cheap stuff?
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    Posted By: gravelldIs this a failure of design or procurement -shouldit be flame retardant, and they've bought cheap stuff?


    Probably not designed to cater for people cooking late dinners out on the window sill...

    gg
    • CommentAuthornigelm
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    The fact that it looks like the fire was propagated up and around the outside of the building indicates an unforgivable failure in the design or implementation of the cladding regardless of how the fire was started.

    I
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017 edited
     
    Posted By: nigelmThe fact that it looks like the fire was propagated up and around the outside of the building indicates an unforgivable failure in the design or implementation of the cladding regardless of how the fire was started.
    Or a fundamental flaw in the general use of EWI on high rise buildings.
  1.  
    PE , what's that stand for? Not EPS then ?
    Some of these cladding systems have a cavity behind that acts like a chimney. First thing I thought when I saw it was EPS ewi issue. Might not be that though. I've heard suggestions the cladding itself was plastic?
    Rather depressing lessons aren't being learnt
    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017 edited
     
    We were aware and discussing these issues 5 years ago !
    Doesn't give me much faith in the 'professional' body of the construction industry.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    Polyethylene. Interweb speculation, though.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    What is polyethylene insulation (=polythene for short)? Recycled plastic bags?

    Whatever it was made of, on anything over 2 stroeys (?) ought to be
    a) specially fire retardant
    b) firestopped at vertical intervals.

    If that wasn't done, someone's in trouble.

    But we could all be in trouble, if our favourite indispensable EWI technique gets a bad name with the public, justifiable or not. Same happened with 'timber frame' housing back in the 80s after one TV programme, took 15yrs to live that down, and even now ...
    • CommentAuthornigelm
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    Agreed that EWI is the way to go on a highrise re-fit, and done properly with fire retardent materials it should be perfectly safe.

    One local redident questioned the corner detail stating that aftet the fire started it quickly spread uo the corner "as if the corner was acting as a chimney".

    Perhaps its a case that its the small details that matter, somthing that anyone who as carried out a building project will be painfully aware of.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    Posted By: fostertomBut we could all be in trouble, if our favourite indispensable EWI technique gets a bad name with the public, justifiable or not.
    Agree in general but I don't think the approach used in projects like this (aluminium panels enclosing insulant) is close to "our favourite indispensable EWI technique" is it?

    But obviously you're right, there's a danger all insulating cladding will be tarred.

    On which note:

    https://twitter.com/thegwpfcom/status/874971463383736325

    Stay classy, GWPF.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    Yes, blame building up ( as distinct from cool investigation). A fortnight earler it would have been ' On Teresa May's watch as Home Sec, the Building Inspectorate was cut by x%'. Cos this has to be a Building Control scandal - was it public Building Inspectors or privatised ditto that failed to enforce retardant and/or fire breaks?

    BTW it seems to be PU (polyurethane) not PE (polyethylene).
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/14/disaster-waiting-to-happen-fire-expert-slams-uk-tower-blocks

    "A recent £8.7m refurbishment of Grenfell Tower saw the building clad with “ACM cassette rainscreen” panels, an aluminium composite material covering insulation panels"

    "under building regulations, only the surface of the cladding has to be fire-proofed to class 0, which is about surface spread,” says Tarling. “The stuff behind it doesn’t, and it’s this which has burned.”
    but
    "you have to incorporate fire stops at the line of each floorplate and every party wall around a dwelling to prevent fire from spreading up the facade. The current regulations are robust enough, but they have to be properly followed, and the architects drawings properly executed on site.”"

    " There are often ventilation voids between the rainscreen cladding and the insulation to prevent damp, but this also increases the spread of flames.”"

    "with cladding or insulation there are choices. There will be a perfectly good non-combustible choice that can be made, but somebody is not making those calls"
    • CommentAuthorbarney
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    Nothing new Tom - we've been banging up all sorts of apartment blocks in pretty well every town for the last 15 years

    Architects love bits of rainscreen cladding mixed in with stack bonded blockwork (or terracotta look alikes) and plenty of stainless steel and glass handrails

    We've even been busy converting all sorts of 1960's office blocks into flats

    They predominantly all claim "Defend in Place" strategies but it's pretty clear that compartment design is poor - implementation is even worse and there is a preponderance of combustible cladding out there that saves a few quid compared to mineral fire cores (or at least retarded polymers)

    Couple that with no one really looking at he cavity barriers and we have a whole load of building that could easily go the same way - remember Lakanal House a few years back - never again they said - until it happens

    Your quote is quite correct "someone isn't making those calls" - and that's principally the designers and developers.

    It really is a game of snake and mongoose when it comes to bluffing BCO's that the design is fine from a fire perspective - the same can be said for part B as Part L - generally compliance is an illusion as this episode sadly shows

    Regards

    Barney
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017 edited
     
    Posted By: barneywhen it comes to bluffing BCO's that the design is fine from a fire perspective
    Bluffing? It's crystal clear. Who is looking the other way deliberately? Is it public BCOs or privatised Regs consultants? I bet a lot of them are quaking in their shoes. I hope there's a public enquiry - maybe the whole non-enforcement issue will now come out.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    I've a flat in a low rise council block which I let, i requested a coy of the council fire risk assessment form the building. The one I received ,

    Had not been reviewed in 3 years ( aparently council had no one capable to review and preferred to get new frisk assessments periodically)

    Assessment stated building was built around 1970 as against actual date of 1953, assumptions on build standard based on this date. ( not corrected by council if anyone even read it)

    Based on the assumptions flat doors were said to be 30 minute fire rated ( most are original hardboard skins in card filler)

    Only door fully inspected, recently replaced fire door was noted to be absent any self closer or intumescent strip.

    No on going contact with tenats regarding disability etc, council stated tenats were given information when they moved in, some of the tenants have been resident for over 20 years and have mobility issues.

    Council has a stay put policy , based on the risk assessment. Later acknowledged that the build date was incorrect and most doors were not fire rated. But that they had no need to replace them until the building underwent major internal refurbishment.

    The whole situation is a farce , backed up by fairly lenient and vague legislation. In this case the council were able to hide behind a very convenient risk assessment.

    Similaryly the building had no legionella risk assessmemt in place.
    • CommentAuthornigelm
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017
     
    We built a garden room that was fully detached from the man house. However because it was within a meter of next door the walls needed 1 hour fire protection even though it was 40 meters from any sort of building.

    This was the letter of the law and we complied without complaint. I wonder if there is some nuance in the building regs for high rise that allows the onw hour pritection against fire sptead to be not applied.

    One ciuld also argue that aluminium is a combustable material, ask anyone who served on a naval ship durung the falklands crisis.

    Ignoting all mitigation whoever contracted iut this wotk, whoever designef the cladding and whoever installed it should be held to account.
    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2017 edited
     
    from the Guardian article
    relating to another building
    "“The issue is that, under building regulations, only the surface of the cladding has to be fire-proofed to class 0, which is about surface spread,” says Tarling. “The stuff behind it doesn’t, and it’s this which has burned.” He says he recently inspected a new-build eight storey block in south-east London where there was no fire protection in the external cavity walls. “The insulation behind the external cladding is flammable polyurethane. I know because I took a chunk out and burned it.”

    I thought all Polyurethane board contained flame retardent , clearly not.
    from a supplier website
    "Is Celotex of limited combustibility?
    Celotex is classed as combustible when tested in accordance with BS476 and has a class 1 surface spread of flame when tested to the same standard.
    For premium fire performance please see ourCelotex FR5000 and products"

    It would seem phelonic or mineral bats would be more suitable but I recall reading even these could allow the fire to wick over their surface and encourage the spread.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2017
     
    People need to be put in prison. There's no point in fining a company, or especially a council as happened with Lakanal House.
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2017
     
    Posted By: djhPeople need to be put in prison.


    quite -- if they are still alive, that is...

    gg
    • CommentAuthorbarney
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2017
     
    A good solid Victorian one with no external cladding ?

    I'd bet if the fire had occurred prior to the refurbishment and introduction of the cladding it wouldn't be national news - just a smoky flat and a bit of local gossip

    I wonder who the building insurers are - they tend to have a view that would lean heavily towards non flammable cladding in these cases

    Barney
  2.  
    Posted By: jamesingramfrom the Guardian article
    relating to another building
    "“The issue is that, under building regulations, only the surface of the cladding has to be fire-proofed to class 0, which is about surface spread,” says Tarling. “The stuff behind it doesn’t, and it’s this which has burned.” He says he recently inspected a new-build eight storey block in south-east London where there was no fire protection in the external cavity walls. “The insulation behind the external cladding is flammable polyurethane. I know because I took a chunk out and burned it.”

    If it is the case that under building regulations, only the surface of the cladding has to be fire-proofed and not the insulation as well then IMO there would be no case to answer by the referb. company if the insulation was not fire proof. It would be a defective regulation that was followed not a defective installation. Assuming of course that the regs regarding any fire breaks etc. were also followed.

    I have seen a number of posts here where people were proposing having a weather screen with a vented space behind on various types of walls. Now whilst a 1.5 or 2 story house would not have the same chimney effect as a tower block there would however still be a chimney effect and I wonder if this practice would also create a possible increased danger for a house
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2017 edited
     
    We should think about it.

    Wonder if even a fibreglass mesh reinforced acrylic render skin could hold together long enough to form a chimney with burning EPS behind? Prob not - where would the oxygen come from if the render remained intact?
    • CommentAuthorringi
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2017
     
    I think on any building over about 4 floors high rockwool should be used instead of EPS, it does not cost much more and will not burn however badly it is installed.

    It also looked like the windows burned VERY quickly letting the fire into each flat, and that the staircase did not have a working positive pressure system to clear smoke.

    I much rather we built like they do in Barcelona there system is only about 5 floors high but get as many people per sq mile as we do in tower blocks.
    • CommentAuthorCX23882
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2017
     
    From here:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20161223144358/http://www.kctmo.org.uk/sub/assets-and-regeneration/153/grenfell-tower-q-and-as-windows-and-heating

    Reading between the lines, the tower originally had aluminium sliding windows. The new tilt and turns were fitted whilst the sliders were still in place, implying that they are outboard of the original windows, in the plane of the new cladding? I wonder how this was closed - surely they didn't just stick a uPVC sill over the top?
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2017
     
    Never mind PVC (outboard) cill - I saw reference to presumably inboard plywood surrounds to mount the new windows, probably lining the thickness of the burning EWI - which of course ignited when the windows fell out, if not causing them to fall out, conducting fire neatly into the interior.

    So no more OSB 'picture frame' for me, to mount windows outboard in the EWI - CPB from now on, or even Supalux.
    • CommentAuthorringi
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2017
     
    Posted By: fostertomSo no more OSB 'picture frame' for me, to mount windows outboard in the EWI - CPB from now on, or even Supalux.


    I would be happy with OSB 'picture frame' in a normal home, just not a tower block! (The "wet room" version of thermacel may be an option as it takes screws well.)

    Are there any good issues why EPS can not be required to be the fire resistant version for all usage?

    I expect a big issue is that air could get up behind the cladding and for some reasons the fire breaks that should have been installed at each floor, did not stop this hot air rising.
   
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