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Grenfell: Extra cladding tests ordered as 'matter of urgency'

Extra tests on cladding and insulation have been ordered by the government as a “matter of urgency” to check how certain materials behave together in a fire. 

The large-scale tests, to be conducted by the BRE, will examine three different types of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, in combination with different types of insulation.

The new tests will involve building a 9 m-tall demonstration wall with a complete cladding system – including panels and insulation – fixed to it, and then subjecting it to a fire, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

Six combinations of cladding will be subject to a BS8414 test procedure. 

Three ACM panels will be tested, with core filler materials of unmodified polyethylene, fire retardant polyethylene, and non-combustible mineral. The two insulation materials tested will be rigid polyisocyanurate foam and non-combustible mineral wool. 

The measures have been recommended by an expert panel on safety, assembled by the government following the Grenfell Tower fire. The tragic blaze in west London last month is thought to have caused at least 80 deaths.

The government revealed earlier this week that samples from 190 buildings had failed fire safety checks – a 100 per cent failure rate. The results of the new tests will be made publicly available.

The expert panel also recommended issuing further practical advice on “immediate steps” landlords can take to identify their wall materials, including insulation, which the DCLG said would be published shortly.

Construction News revealed earlier this week that an official document drawn up five years ago urged ministers to slash “onerous” fire safety requirements.  

 

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