Adrian Pargeter 02 March 2018

Time for action

Time for action image

In prime minister’s Question Time on 21 February, Theresa May responded to a question about why there are still people living in tower blocks with cladding that has been identified as unsafe.

Mrs May highlighted the fact that immediately following the appalling fire at Grenfell Tower, local authorities and others had worked with their local fire authorities to ensure that action was taken where it was thought necessary, to ensure the safety of the occupants.

These swift steps dealt with any immediate risk, whilst effective long-term solutions are sought. It is those long-term solutions that we now need to focus on.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has stated that: 'The Government will consider providing financial flexibilities for local authorities to undertake essential fire safety work to make buildings safe.'

Regardless of whether insurance companies are prepared to pay out in the long term, local authorities should therefore be able to get some financial support to get the job done. In either case, it is crucial to gain a good understanding of the precise extent of the work (and therefore the amount of funding) that is required.

The DCLG testing programme, using the rigorous BS8414 test method, was an initial step to clarify which cladding solutions could be considered safe. Since those first tests in July and August 2017, additional full system BS8414 tests have been carried out — currently being signed-off by the BRE — which show several further solutions that can be deemed compliant with Part B of the Building Regulations.

As new information has been coming to light, the official guidance has been updated regularly, with the most recent data release from MHCLG on 22 January 2018. It should be noted that the broad guidance remains that any wall system containing a PE cored ACM cladding panel (such as was on Grenfell Tower), even when combined with non-combustible insulation, would not be considered compliant.

At the other end of the scale, systems with an A2 rated, solid-cored ACM, are deemed to have passed the test, regardless of whether they are combined with rock fibre, PIR or phenolic insulation, with the proviso that different products from different manufacturers will vary, which may affect fire performance.

It is those cladding systems with FR cored ACMs that present the greatest complexity. The Government tests on these systems yielded a pass result for rock fibre and a marginal fail for PIR and phenolic. The data release document states: 'However, it is important to note that there are many different variants of this cladding and insulation and it is possible that products from different manufacturers may behave differently in a fire.'

It should not be assumed therefore, that FR core ACMs in combination with rock fibre are automatically compliant. On the other hand, more recent tests have shown that two cladding systems using FR cored ACMs and one brand of phenolic insulation, are in fact compliant with relevant requirements of the Building Regulations. This means that some buildings, which are insulated with that brand of phenolic insulation, may not require remedial work or may require less than was originally estimated.

The BRE holds a register of all cladding configurations which have been successfully tested to BS8414 at:

Remember that BS 8414 results only apply to the specific design tested and seek professional advice and guidance as to whether your system complies. Note also that recent tests may not yet be listed on the BRE website. You can refer to the manufacturers and/or designer of your current system to get the latest information.

With the greater range of systems that have now passed the critical BS8414 test, there may well be a smaller number of buildings on which remedial work is required, and the remedial works that are required may be far less onerous than had hitherto been thought.

Adrian Pargeter is head of technical and marketing at Kingspan Insulation

Restoring the glory days of the British seaside image

Restoring the glory days of the British seaside

The traditional seaside resort is having a hard time, new figures on bankruptcies show. But experts say a combination of support and greater freedom could turn them around, as Mark Whitehead found out.
Highways jobs

Senior Manager – Older Adults – Residential Care

Cumbria County Council
£68,709 - £71,218
This pivotal role requires leadership and management of the Council's twenty in house Residential Care services Carlisle, Cumbria
Recuriter: Cumbria County Council

Education, Health and Care (EHC) Co-ordinators

Buckinghamshire Council
£30,874 - £37,188 per annum
Interested in a career as an EHC Coordinator? Come along to our drop-in event to meet members of the SEND team and find out more about the role! England, Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury
Recuriter: Buckinghamshire Council

Children's Assistant Team Managers - Childrens Looked After Team

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
Up to £46,347 Plus £2,000 welcome payment
As an Assistant Team Manager in LAC service you will have a major contribution to make to the delivery of our vision and strategic priorities, by... London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Practitioner

Redbridge London Borough Council
£39,774 - £42,684 per annum plus 3,000 R&R
Looking to recruit a highly motivated qualified Social Worker who is ready to take the next step in their career progression as a... Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Interim Head of Corporate and Customer Services

West Lancashire Borough Council
£56,093 to £56,943 per annum
Looking for an experienced dynamic leader to join our team and drive a culture of commercial development, service improvement, and... Lancashire
Recuriter: West Lancashire Borough Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores how councils can tackle modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains, finds out more about Cambridge's first cohousing scheme and the launch of a new project to build a shared service pattern library for local government.

This issue also contains a special focus on children's services and how councils are protecting children following local safeguarding children boards being abolished.

Register for your free magazine