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How many tower blocks will be condemned?

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34 minutes ago, copydude said:

Sorry, disagree entirely.

This is a simple matter of technical compliance. It doesn't impact society at all. There's a right way to do things, or a wrong way. Those empowered chose the wrong way. They weaselled around the regs simply because they could . . . it's what Gordon Brown called, 'light touch regulation'.

'A world . . . awful to live in' ?? I grew up in a world where banks and building societies and buildings didn't crash and burn thanks to 'light touch regulation'.

Great. Now think about it a bit more. First of all, yes, technical compliance does impact society, a lot. There is not a simple right or wrong way to do things. There are multitudes of ways, with various strengths and weaknesses. How far down that line do you want to dictate how everything should be done? Next, think about the level of inspection, official approval etc. required to make sure absolutely everything is done properly (and even then you'll never 100% guarantee it). Police state here we come.

People screwed up, badly, in this case, and need to answer for it. Don't however use it to go down the path of "anything is justified if it's in the name of safety." If you want to live in a world where everything is controlled to the last detail be my guest. I don't, and I don't even want to get close to that. And if you don't want to get close to that then cockups will happen. That does not mean shrugging my shoulders and doing nothing about it, but the harsh truth is that occasionally very bad things will happen.

Edited by Riedquat

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3 hours ago, Riedquat said:

I think where it gets a bit muddied is that the link you provided a few pages back also went on to imply that some low (but not non) combustible material could still be used. To comply with the bit quoted above other measures would need to be in place to prevent exactly what we saw happen from happening. The fact that it did happen by definition means that it didn't comply with limiting the spread, so I take that as meaning yes, it didn't meet the regs but the reasons may be more complicated than just the material used.

We go back to the post about oily rags (which wouldn't meet the low combustible part, but aside from that...) and that as long as you could demonstrate you can somehow install them safely, then why not? The problem was that it would be hard or impossible to demonstrate that they could be used safely without building a full size building and setting it on fire, so they wouldn't get used because it would be too hard to demonstrate that they met rule B4. So I think the question is what evidence was there that what was installed was believed to adequately resist the spread of fire? "We've come up with this system in theory, never tested it properly" wouldn't. Even "we've somehow demonstrated it works fine if properly installed, but it's easy to mis-installed without it being noticable" probably wouldn't either. Well, I say "probably". I don't actually know, so "hope" might be a better word.

Again, it comes down to the options for compliance. The law is general, but approved document B gives you several options as to how to be compliant.

You can use non-combustible or "limited combustibility" materials (essentially materials which are mostly non-combustible, with small amounts of organic filler - e.g. mineral wool treated with a shape-retaining adhesive) as required in paragrah B12.7.

However, B12.5 allows you to ignore paragraphs B12.6-12.9, if you can demonstrate in large scale testing (BS8414) that your complete engineered system resists the spread of fire adequately to the levels required by the BRE (BR 135) document.

Although the latter "performance" requirement is nice in theory, I wonder if this disaster indicates that there are too many subtleties, which make it prone to error and that it may be difficult to enforce. For example, the overall performance is highly dependent on the materials, design, and construction, and these may interact in complex ways, which may not be easy to predict. At the same time, it can lead to confusion, as combustible materials may be acceptable in some circumstances but not others. 

The cladding manufacturers do provide examples of systems which have been tested to BS8414, or which, based on expert opinion, are expected to comply without testing.  For example: http://www.kingspaninsulation.co.uk/getattachment/dc8cf2c7-5e23-4d9a-9a1f-96bdf571ecdd/Techncial-Bulletin--Routes-to-Compliance--Fire-Saf.aspx

On page 22, you'll see there is an example cladding system design using ACM rainscreen (but you'll notice that it specified "FR" grade).

I head some talking head today on the news saying that they reckon that the architect's specification was wrong, in that it didn't specify "FR" grade. As a result, normal grade polyethylene rainscreen got installed. The fact that building control didn't pick this up is a concern, but it goes back to my point that the performance based approach may simply be too complex to be enforced reliably.

 

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Interesting (though unverified) post here from Reddit:

 

So, current numbers appear to be '58', but I'd like to address why it's taking authorities, i.e. fire and police, so long to publish numbers.

For sake of clarity - I am a detective. I've worked as such for ten years now, and sadly I've had all too much contact with Casualty Bureau over that time including knowing people who work within it, and also working with it and with victims and relatives of victims of major disasters (including twice in the last month, sadly) whilst it deals with the aftermath of a major incidents. I've also investigated Arson (Although not Arson leading to death as that falls to a murder squad) and have attended seminars and additional training in fire and suspicious fire investigation.

Firstly, the basic principle of Casualty Bureau, is to maintain a list of those hospitalised or killed in a major incident. That list must be accurate and complete. It acts as a single point of contact and information hub. To do this they:

    Maintain a list of known dead. (A)
    Maintain a list of total casualties - either dead and unidentified or hospitalised. (B)
    Collate calls of reports of concern for friends or loved ones. (C)

The ultimate aim is to ensure that all victims fall into group A, none in group B, and that all concerns for victims can be either attributed to a person dead, hospitalised, or confirmed alive and well and therefore dismissed.

Let's consider for a minute WHY we might not have a complete list of people living in Grenfell house:

    People may have sub let
    People may have been on holiday or abroad
    People may have moved out but be keeping a flat there
    People may have had friends staying over
    People may have had extended family in the flat but not told about this for fear of breaching occupancy rules
    There may be illegal immigrants, drug users or people wanted by police there, who necessarily hide from authorities.
    People may have not reported that they have partners or children living with them in order to keep getting benefits they might not be entitled to.
    You could have a few flats which are over-occupied by low paid workers.
    Some people who have escaped may not want to contact the authorities to tell them, or else may not be able to (Language or injury perhaps)

In short, there are enough variables there that we cannot safely assume that any list the council or anyone else might possess is accurate. Some might lead to there being more potential victims, other might lead to us assuming that people on the top three floors are definitely dead when they are abroad or elsewhere.

So those factors already limit us to having to obtain first hand verifiable information that there ARE people within the flats, and that they ARE dead, and then cross referencing that against the lists held with casualty bureau along with confirmation of ID so that you know who is dead and who is not.

And lest you think this is important enough that we could safely make assumptions about those in certain flats, I'd like you to consider how you would feel if you were told you parent or child was dead, only to find out later they were in fact alive but in hospital, or else being told that a relative had survived, only to later find out they had perished. It's exceptionally important work, and it MUST be correct and verified before you release any firm indication of numbers.

So now lets move on to why it will take time to verify this. Fire scenes are amongst the most challenging to deal with. Not everything inside has been incinerated to charcoal: Ceilings fall in, soft furnishings and plastics may ignite in intense heat, the buildings structure may have been damaged. So first of all you have to make sure the building itself is safe before you send people in to search. that in itself can take days of work and checks.

When those people are searching, what they must do is indescribable. You don't understand what remains in a fire scene until you've been into a few (And I have, albeit nothing that serious). As an example, I know of a fire scene where the corner of a bedroom including a bed had been lit and it was treated as Arson. The room itself was largely in tact but the bed was covered in debris from tiles that had fallen from the wall and ceiling. It wasn't until the hostel staff went to replace the bed 3 days after the fire that they realised that there was actually a body underneath that debris: The tiles and curtains and roof material had burnt and fallen, pushing a slightly build woman down into the matress and bed base, hiding her body. A firefighter recalled to me how he had once stood on a fire victims 'stomach' completely unaware they were there until he tripped over their kneecaps which were protruding from the debris.

The flats inside Grenfell house could be three feet deep in charred material. And what do people do in a fire, as smoke fills their rooms? They hide. They hide under beds, in baths, in corners, low to the ground. They curl up around their children and hug them. They die, from smoke inhalation, in their hiding places, and then they might be covered by ash, debris, rubble as the building and items around them burn. Bodies do NOT just disappear, but the remains become badly burned, smoked, unrecognisable. Even gender, age or ethnicity becomes almost impossible to determine. It might be that ID, paperwork and other documents survive, but there is no guarantee that they relate to the people in the flat you are in. So you might have an idea that there are an adult, a juvenile and a child in a particular flat. Then you have to check that against records and casualty bureau reports to try and verify who the person is. If there's doubt, that might involve DNA checks compared to the loved ones reporting them missing, or checking medical and dental records. This takes time.

So teams will have to work, from flat to flat, room to room, clearing debris until they are confident they know how many people are or are not inside that building. They'll be working in breathing apparatus and protective gear because burnt plastics and smoke are highly toxic even days and week later. Survivors can obviously greatly speed this process by informing authorities that no-one was left in their flat - but that doesn't negate the possibility that people may have moved from flat to flat in the panic of the fire, so all flats will eventually have to be searched. The number of people trained to do this kind of work? A handful, and their skills are in demand globally. The Disaster identification trained people I know were in Manchester last month and travel globally to major events to assist. The training was born out of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.

And, with a flat or block in a place like London, remember we'll be taking calls from around the world as the news spreads, from people who believe loved ones might live in that block, or one like it in London.

I hope that this sheds some light on the painstaking and meticulous nature of the task facing 'the authorities' in this kind of incident. And when you're dealing with things this important, the only way to do it properly is to do it slowly. It took us a week to state definitively that 8 people had died in the London Bridge terror attack - we had recovered 7 of the bodies by midday the day after. The delay was due to formal identification and informing relatives around the world before press released details.

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51 minutes ago, ChumpusRex said:

Again, it comes down to the options for compliance. The law is general, but approved document B gives you several options as to how to be compliant.

You can use non-combustible or "limited combustibility" materials (essentially materials which are mostly non-combustible, with small amounts of organic filler - e.g. mineral wool treated with a shape-retaining adhesive) as required in paragrah B12.7.

However, B12.5 allows you to ignore paragraphs B12.6-12.9, if you can demonstrate in large scale testing (BS8414) that your complete engineered system resists the spread of fire adequately to the levels required by the BRE (BR 135) document.

Although the latter "performance" requirement is nice in theory, I wonder if this disaster indicates that there are too many subtleties, which make it prone to error and that it may be difficult to enforce. For example, the overall performance is highly dependent on the materials, design, and construction, and these may interact in complex ways, which may not be easy to predict. At the same time, it can lead to confusion, as combustible materials may be acceptable in some circumstances but not others. 

The cladding manufacturers do provide examples of systems which have been tested to BS8414, or which, based on expert opinion, are expected to comply without testing.  For example: http://www.kingspaninsulation.co.uk/getattachment/dc8cf2c7-5e23-4d9a-9a1f-96bdf571ecdd/Techncial-Bulletin--Routes-to-Compliance--Fire-Saf.aspx

On page 22, you'll see there is an example cladding system design using ACM rainscreen (but you'll notice that it specified "FR" grade).

I head some talking head today on the news saying that they reckon that the architect's specification was wrong, in that it didn't specify "FR" grade. As a result, normal grade polyethylene rainscreen got installed. The fact that building control didn't pick this up is a concern, but it goes back to my point that the performance based approach may simply be too complex to be enforced reliably.

 

I think Reynobond panels comply with the regulation.  B12.7 applies only to insulation. B12.6 applies to panels, Diagram 40 shows that external surfaces need to be class 0 (worse than limited combustibility) , both PE and FR are class 0.

From the regs point of view the problem is with insulation RS5000, which is not limited combustibility but has passed BS8414 as a part of specific cladding system:

"The system tested was as follows: • 12mm Fibre Cement Panels • Supporting aluminium brackets and vertical rails • 100mm Celotex RS5000 • 12mm Non-combustible sheathing board • 100mm SFS System • 2 x 12.5mm plasterboard"

https://www.celotex.co.uk/products/download/5c73880a-6017-4854-88fe-923fff569a4f

The cladding system which was installed on the Grenfell tower was different,  the tested system used non combustible fibre cement panels, installed class 0.

In 2000 a parliament committee recommended to change building regulation guidance to require all external cladding system to pass the full scale test (BS8414) but this has not been implemented. The building regs still give two options either the whole cladding system passes test B8414 or complies with paragraphs 12.6-12.9 (which means for building over 18m panels class 0, insulation limited combustibility) 

"20. We believe that all external cladding systems should be required either to be entirely non-combustible, or to be proven through full-scale testing not to pose an unacceptable level of risk in terms of fire spread. We therefore recommend that compliance with the standards set in the 'Test for assessing the fire performance of external cladding systems', which has been submitted to the British Standards Institution for adoption as a British Standard,[52] be substituted in Approved Document B for previous requirements relating to the fire safety of external cladding systems."

https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmenvtra/109/10907.htm

The question is why the building regs have not been changed for over 17 years. The committee warned  

"19. Notwithstanding what we have said in paragraph 18 above, we do not believe that it should take a serious fire in which many people are killed before all reasonable steps are taken towards minimising the risks. The evidence we have received strongly suggests that the small-scale tests which are currently used to determine the fire safety of external cladding systems are not fully effective in evaluating their performance in a 'live' fire situation. As a more appropriate test for external cladding systems now exists, we see no reason why it should not be used.[51] "

 

   

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2 hours ago, Riedquat said:

Great. Now think about it a bit more. First of all, yes, technical compliance does impact society, a lot. There is not a simple right or wrong way to do things. There are multitudes of ways, with various strengths and weaknesses. How far down that line do you want to dictate how everything should be done? Next, think about the level of inspection, official approval etc. required to make sure absolutely everything is done properly (and even then you'll never 100% guarantee it). Police state here we come.

People screwed up, badly, in this case, and need to answer for it. Don't however use it to go down the path of "anything is justified if it's in the name of safety." If you want to live in a world where everything is controlled to the last detail be my guest. I don't, and I don't even want to get close to that. And if you don't want to get close to that then cockups will happen. That does not mean shrugging my shoulders and doing nothing about it, but the harsh truth is that occasionally very bad things will happen.

As you allude, safety isn't an absolute:  safety means 'safe enough' and is a compromise between safety and cost.  Society (in the form of politicians) decides where that compromise of 'safe enough' should lie.

I don't think copydude is suggesting that the building must be absolutely safe (which is virtually impossible) but that the definition of 'safe enough' should be unambiguous.

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1 hour ago, ChumpusRex said:

Although the latter "performance" requirement is nice in theory, I wonder if this disaster indicates that there are too many subtleties, which make it prone to error and that it may be difficult to enforce. For example, the overall performance is highly dependent on the materials, design, and construction, and these may interact in complex ways, which may not be easy to predict.

Food for thought as always, thanks.

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4 minutes ago, Will! said:

As you allude, safety isn't an absolute:  safety means 'safe enough' and is a compromise between safety and cost.  Society (in the form of politicians) decides where that compromise of 'safe enough' should lie.

I don't think copydude is suggesting that the building must be absolutely safe (which is virtually impossible) but that the definition of 'safe enough' should be unambiguous.

It is not just a compromise between safety and cost, but also may involve other competing objectives. In this case, thermal insulation seems to have been a high priority, but I think the types of foam stipulated for insulation are all combustible, just with different retardent properties. Furthermore the inflammable behaviour of such foams is very likely (I think) to be based on lab tests which may not relate well to the real World. Safety should be paramount, but the safest option may be the cheapest - simple massive concrete construction with no adornement.

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3 hours ago, Riedquat said:

Interesting, cheers.

Is there anything you don't know every detail about? :)

Not much, just anything non-engineering related.  Has anyone ever seen CR comment on anything cultural or metaphysical?

Perhaps "he"'s IBM's Watson.

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1 hour ago, slawek said:

I think Reynobond panels comply with the regulation.  B12.7 applies only to insulation. B12.6 applies to panels, Diagram 40 shows that external surfaces need to be class 0 (worse than limited combustibility) , both PE and FR are class 0.

From the regs point of view the problem is with insulation RS5000, which is not limited combustibility but has passed BS8414 as a part of specific cladding system:

"The system tested was as follows: • 12mm Fibre Cement Panels • Supporting aluminium brackets and vertical rails • 100mm Celotex RS5000 • 12mm Non-combustible sheathing board • 100mm SFS System • 2 x 12.5mm plasterboard"

https://www.celotex.co.uk/products/download/5c73880a-6017-4854-88fe-923fff569a4f

The cladding system which was installed on the Grenfell tower was different,  the tested system used non combustible fibre cement panels, installed class 0.  

Exactly. This illustrates the complexity of the matter.

The legislation allows a materials approach (class 0 outer surface, and limited combustibility filler). However, there are concerns that class 0 is not adequate, as the classes are based on small scale testing.

The pressure on government has been to remove the materials approach, and make the performance approach (BS8414) mandatory. Indeed, if you read the technical guidance from cladding manufacturers, several specifically advise NOT to go for the materials approach for >18 m tall buildings, and that ONLY a BS8414 compliant solution should be specified (which is exactly the change to the legislation which the government was being pushed towards in 2000).

The problem in this case, and why the parliamentary discussion as to the legislation misses the point here, is that by specifying isocyanurate insulation, the architect has gone down the BS8414 route, and not the materials route (which was seen as the weakspot in the legislation).

As you point out, the grenfell cladding system is not the same as the test example you quote.  Hence BS8414 cannot be assumed, without either a full-scale test, or a desktop analysis/literature review by an fire safety expert.

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8 minutes ago, ChumpusRex said:

Exactly. This illustrates the complexity of the matter.

The legislation allows a materials approach (class 0 outer surface, and limited combustibility filler). However, there are concerns that class 0 is not adequate, as the classes are based on small scale testing.

The pressure on government has been to remove the materials approach, and make the performance approach (BS8414) mandatory. Indeed, if you read the technical guidance from cladding manufacturers, several specifically advise NOT to go for the materials approach for >18 m tall buildings, and that ONLY a BS8414 compliant solution should be specified (which is exactly the change to the legislation which the government was being pushed towards in 2000).

The problem in this case, and why the parliamentary discussion as to the legislation misses the point here, is that by specifying isocyanurate insulation, the architect has gone down the BS8414 route, and not the materials route (which was seen as the weakspot in the legislation).

As you point out, the grenfell cladding system is not the same as the test example you quote.  Hence BS8414 cannot be assumed, without either a full-scale test, or a desktop analysis/literature review by an fire safety expert.

I'm calling a hitherto unknown trench effect type phenomenon. 

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5 hours ago, ChumpusRex said:

Exactly. This illustrates the complexity of the matter.

The legislation allows a materials approach (class 0 outer surface, and limited combustibility filler). However, there are concerns that class 0 is not adequate, as the classes are based on small scale testing.

 

I'm slowly getting up to speed on all this!

I'd already read that Class 0 is about the outer surface and spread of flames and is not a measure of combustibility.

But when I look on the Celotex website for the PIR insulation used at Grenfell Tower, RS5000, it says this:

Quote

Has Class 0 fire performance throughout the entire product in accordance with BS 476

Does that make any sense?

If Class O is a measure of surface spread, how can it apply "throughout the entire product"?

 

Edited by oldsport

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11 hours ago, ChumpusRex said:

I head some talking head today on the news saying that they reckon (?) that the architect's specification was wrong, in that it didn't specify "FR" grade. As a result, normal grade polyethylene rainscreen got installed. The fact that building control didn't pick this up is a concern . . .

No one knows if this is what happened, but an architect writing in the Guardian addresses your second point:

Quote

 

Building control departments in many local authorities have been eviscerated. They are invariably under-resourced with no teeth. Often a subset of planning departments, they lack the authority to carry out what is arguably the most important part of a local authority’s remit – to ensure the safety of its residents.

Furthermore this function has been partly privatised, with a range of companies competing for the business. It is often those companies with a reputation for gaining “easy” approvals that increasingly dominate the market, further undercutting the council building control. 

 

 

Quote

 

In early 2007 I was working on a large refurbishment project in the West End. We were informed by the fire officer who was reviewing the project with us that in the near future fire officers would no longer play an active role.

A new form of self-certification was to be introduced, with the onus on the developer/owner to ensure a project met all fire regulations. This took no cognisance of the fact that different buildings could have very different fire requirements. The fire officer looked me straight in the eyes and told me that in his opinion this was a recipe for disaster.


 

 

Quote

 

The third part of the triple lock is to ensure that all materials used in a building are fit for purpose – obviously particularly important in the case of fire safety. 

With architects now seldom having the authority to insist on specific products being used, there is a tendency to go for cheaper materials, without necessarily understanding the impact or potential knock-on effect.

 

The current building regulations are essentially a cowboy's charter. 

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12 minutes ago, copydude said:

The current building regulations are essentially a cowboy's charter. 

That is my impression as well.

Privatisation of building control functions, cuts to local authorities building control departments, conflict of interest between local authority functions as investor and building regulation enforcer, the government failure to update building regulations to implement recommendations of the parliament committee from 2000 and the inquiry from 2009 (is it because of the pressure from the construction industry or just total incompetence?).       

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41 minutes ago, copydude said:

No one knows if this is what happened, but an architect writing in the Guardian addresses your second point:

 

 

 

The current building regulations are essentially a cowboy's charter. 

 

41 minutes ago, copydude said:

 

 

 

I have a reasonable working knowledge of the building regs and how building control inspectors operate . I don't believe they are a cowboys charter but there must be good will shown by the developer and builder . The construction industry seems to operate on what you can get away with as being best practice. Scotland's regs are more advanced in many ways and the requirements work out more expensive for the builder. Unbelievably there are not unified building regs throughout the uk

I know some insurers are considering not accepting approved inspectors completion certs as they consider their checks are not stringent enough and have a far to cosy relationship with their clients. Anything example of privatisation not being of benefit to the general populace.

Sorry text ended up in quote box.

Edited by chicker

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11 hours ago, slawek said:

I think Reynobond panels comply with the regulation.  B12.7 applies only to insulation. B12.6 applies to panels, Diagram 40 shows that external surfaces need to be class 0 (worse than limited combustibility) , both PE and FR are class 0.

From the regs point of view the problem is with insulation RS5000, which is not limited combustibility .......

 

Does this mean that if Reynobond PE panels are used in conjunction with a form of insulation that is of "limited combustibility" (e.g mineral fibre slabs) then that would satisfy the requirements of B12.6-12.9? If so that is very scary.

P.S. I deleted my earlier reply because I'd got confused. Hope this one makes sense!

 

Edited by oldsport

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1 hour ago, copydude said:

No one knows if this is what happened, but an architect writing in the Guardian addresses your second point:

 

 

 

The current building regulations are essentially a cowboy's charter. 

 
 

The regulations may be perceived as such but if corners have been cut and the law not strictly adhered too then someone is for the high jump.

They can laugh and cut corners to save money but now they have a disaster of gigantic proportions on their hands some tough explaining needs to be done.

10 minutes ago, BadAlchemy said:

Pointless petition.....

This chap as a previous housing minister has only been in post less than a week. In what way is he culpable for when he was housing minister previously?

Far better going after whomever's idea it was to change the law in 2007 from Fire Brigade inspections to Internal Risk Assessment.

Edited by geezer466

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10 minutes ago, oldsport said:

Does this mean that if the Reynobond PE panels were used in conjunction with a form of insulation that was of "limited combustibility" (e.g mineral fibre slabs) then that would satisfy the requirements of B12.6-12.9? If so that is very scary.

P.S. I deleted my earlier reply because I'd got confused. Hope this one makes sense!

 

That is my understanding. The building regulations have not been updated in this part.at least from 2000 despite the committee recommendation. They just added another option to  use test BS8414. I am not an expert but I think (the committee thought as well) that class 0 is not safe. I don't know if that was the main reason why the fire spread so fast upwards on the external wall, there could be some other factors.   

20. We believe that all external cladding systems should be required either to be entirely non-combustible, or to be proven through full-scale testing not to pose an unacceptable level of risk in terms of fire spread. We therefore recommend that compliance with the standards set in the 'Test for assessing the fire performance of external cladding systems', which has been submitted to the British Standards Institution for adoption as a British Standard,[52] be substituted in Approved Document B for previous requirements relating to the fire safety of external cladding systems.

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46 minutes ago, slawek said:

That is my impression as well.

 . . . . is it because of the pressure from the construction industry or just total incompetence?       

How about both? Chumpus Rex already paints a picture of the complexity of compliance issues.

The Construction industry (see it's mouthpiece, Construction News) is already arguing that the problem lies with the regulations . . . apparently the coroner at Lakanal described them as so confusing, the lawyers couldn't understand them. However, eight years and many housing ministers later nothing has been done.  

All the same, lawyers aren't fire safety experts. The Kingspan brochure provided by Chumpus Rex details quite clearly what is involved in cladding compliance and you need to be pretty steeped in the subject to sign off on a project. Hard to imagine a developer/owner could possess the required competence.

The previous Housing Minister, like his predecessors,  sat on a brief to review fire safety because 'it would discourage building'. Presumably he was lobbied. Of course he should resign. He lost his seat at the election but was brought back as a friend of the PM.

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5 minutes ago, copydude said:

All the same, lawyers aren't fire safety experts. The Kingspan brochure provided by Chumpus Rex details quite clearly what is involved in cladding compliance and you need to be pretty steeped in the subject to sign off on a project. Hard to imagine a developer/owner could possess the required competence.

Then they should stick to what they do have the competence to do. There are some things that would unambigously meet the requirements (stuff that can't burn at all).

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What I can't get my head around is all the rules and regs regarding fire resistant foam furniture, safety regarding electrical installation in homes, gas boilers, smoke detectors etc, etc.....but how easy to clad buildings where hundreds live with something that is highly combustible?!!!;)

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1 hour ago, copydude said:

 an architect writing in the Guardian addresses your second point:

In early 2007 I was working on a large refurbishment project in the West End. We were informed by the fire officer who was reviewing the project with us that in the near future fire officers would no longer play an active role.

A new form of self-certification was to be introduced, with the onus on the developer/owner to ensure a project met all fire regulations. This took no cognisance of the fact that different buildings could have very different fire requirements. The fire officer looked me straight in the eyes and told me that in his opinion this was a recipe for disaster.

More heartless Tory cuts and privatisations again!!!  Tories only interested in profits!!!

Quote

In early 2007...

Oh....

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25 minutes ago, copydude said:

How about both? Chumpus Rex already paints a picture of the complexity of compliance issues.

The Construction industry (see it's mouthpiece, Construction News) is already arguing that the problem lies with the regulations . . . apparently the coroner at Lakanal described them as so confusing, the lawyers couldn't understand them. However, eight years and many housing ministers later nothing has been done.  

All the same, lawyers aren't fire safety experts. The Kingspan brochure provided by Chumpus Rex details quite clearly what is involved in cladding compliance and you need to be pretty steeped in the subject to sign off on a project. Hard to imagine a developer/owner could possess the required competence.

The previous Housing Minister, like his predecessors,  sat on a brief to review fire safety because 'it would discourage building'. Presumably he was lobbied. Of course he should resign. He lost his seat at the election but was brought back as a friend of the PM.

The cladding was installed to improve energy efficiency, which has been an over-riding consideration since 2000. Somewhere somebody signed off on the idea that because the various carbon based cladding materials are better thermal insulators, that over-rode considerations for the total structure to be non-combustible. The cladding materials may have various fire retardent properties, but unless mineral based, and with some sort of barriers to counteract the chimney effect, any normal person must have regarded them as a fire hazard. Do you really need to know what all these BS numbers mean, in order to understand that rather fundamental point?

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