Grenfell Tower Update - 5 July
The situation in Wales
Our members own or manage 18 blocks of 7 storeys or taller.
Current Welsh Government guidance is to follow the DCLG guidance with regards to the testing of suspected ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) type cladding on buildings of residential buildings of seven storeys or taller (or above 18m in height). Testing via the DCLG scheme is through the BRE. The testing scheme is for confirmed or suspected ACM cladding on buildings of 7 storeys or more. No other samples will be accepted by the BRE for testing through this scheme and there is no recommendation to test any other samples.
What happens in the result of a fail?
If ACM cladding is suspected on a building, or if a sample has failed, DCLG have issued guidance on 22nd June detailing steps to be undertaken to ensure the fire safety of the building while the safety of the cladding is assessed further.
Should ACM cladding be removed?
The expert panel convened by DCLG issued the following statement on 29th June:
“The tests that are currently being conducted are a screening test to identify which ACM panels are of concern. It tests the filler – the core of the panel – to check if it is of limited combustibility (category 1) or not (category 2 or 3). This is in line with the requirement of the Building Regulations guidance. The filler is one element of the overall cladding system.
If the panel core fails the test we would expect the landlord to take the recommended interim fire safety measures issued on 22nd June.
Early next week the Expert Panel will consider whether these panels can be used safely as part of a wider building external wall system, and therefore could remain on a building under certain approved circumstances. If, in the meantime, a landlord chooses to take down and replace cladding, care should be taken to consider the impact that removal may have on the other wall elements, especially insulation, and therefore on the overall fire integrity of the building as well as other Building Regulation requirements.”
CHC will keep members updated with the outcome from the UK Expert Panel.
What about buildings below 7 storeys?
Neither Welsh Government nor DCLG have recommended testing of cladding on buildings below 7 storeys (18m) in height. The BRE testing is not available for cladding on buildings below 7 storeys.
Wales Fire Safety Advisory Group
Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, has established a Fire Safety Advisory Group to consider the wider implications emerging from the Grenfell Tower disaster and subsequent inquiry and investigation. The membership of this group is as follows:
Stuart Ropke – Chief Executive, Community Housing Cymru
Steve Thomas – Chief Executive, WLGA
Ruth Marks – Chief Executive, WCVA
Huw Jakeway – Chief Fire Officer, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service
David Wilton – Chief Executive, Tenant Participation Advisory Service Cymru
The group will meet for the first time later this week.
CHC has been in daily contact with Welsh Government and WLGA since the Grenfell Tower fire. We have provided data to inform Welsh Government’s decision making and highlighted the excellent safety record of our members when it comes to high rise blocks. Stuart appeared on BBC Radio Wales yesterday morning to discuss our members’ responses to the disaster. The interview can be found at 1:38:38 on the following link: https://t.co/wjXxKOWlbH
CHC is represented on the Fire Safety Advisory Group as mentioned above. We will also be giving evidence, alongside our members, to the Assembly inquiry into safety in tower blocks to be held on 13th July.
Further information from Welsh Government
Welsh Government has also issued a set of FAQs following the fire, which can be found here.
Carl Sargeant issued a written statement on Monday 3 July, outlining their response so far. This can be read here.