The latest in the government’s series of fire safety tests of cladding and insulation combinations has been completed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE).
These large scale tests will allow experts to better understand how different types of cladding panels behave with different types of insulation in a fire. The results of the first 5 tests have already been published.
This additional test was of a wall cladding system consisting of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding with a fire retardant polyethylene filler (category 2 in screening tests) with phenolic foam insulation.
The government’s expert panel advises that the results show that the combination of materials used in the test does not meet current Building Regulations guidance.
Initial screening tests have identified 22 buildings over 18 metres tall in England known to have a combination of ACM with a fire retardant polyethylene filler with phenolic foam insulation. Cladding samples from each of these buildings had already failed earlier combustibility tests conducted by BRE and their owners were sent government advice detailing the immediate interim safety measures that needed to be completed. Appropriate measures have been put in place for all 22 of these buildings.
Government has also provided these building owners with additional detailed advice setting out the actions they need to take to ensure the safety of residents going forward. Government is working closely with these building owners to ensure this advice is being followed.
The series of large-scale tests initially included 6 combinations of cladding systems. On 8 August 2017, the government announced that on the advice of the expert panel it would undertake a further large-scale test of ACM with fire retardant polyethylene filler (category 2 in screening tests) with phenolic foam insulation. This is to further build the evidence available for experts and building owners so they can make informed safety decisions.
Results of the final large-scale test (ACM with a limited combustibility filler with mineral wool insulation) – and consolidated advice to landlords based on all the 7 tests – will be published shortly.
The government announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety on 28 July 2017. This forward looking review will examine the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety as well as related compliance and enforcement issues.