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Grenfell Tower Fire Report Condemned for failing to ban flammable cladding

 

Grenfell Tower Fire Report Condemned For Failing To Ban Flammable Cladding

No ban on flammable cladding.

 

A long-awaited report on building regulations launched after the Grenfell Tower fire is being condemned as not going far enough to prevent a repeat of the tragedy, which killed 71 people in June last year.

 

The report by Dame Judith Hackitt stops short of calling for an outright ban on the flammable cladding blamed by many for the spread of the blaze, which broke out on the fourth floor of the west London tower block.

 

Instead it calls for a “wholesale change in culture” on fire safety, and greater clarity and tighter policing of guidance already in place, which says cladding must be made of material of limited combustibility.

 
PA Wire/PA Images
71 people were killed in the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June last year 

She said: “This is a broken system that needs to be fixed. We have to put in place a new system that holds people to account … a much stronger regulatory regime that ensures that people who take short cuts or do not do what they are responsible for are held to account and see tougher sanctions as a result.

“It is a wholesale culture change. It is a much stronger regulatory regime for high-rise buildings that recognises that there is an inherently high level of risk involved.”

Dame Judith, a former chairwoman of the Health and Safety Executive, said she did not think that an outright cladding ban would work, to widespread condemnation.

PA Wire/PA Images
Dame Judith Hackitt said she did not think an outright cladding ban would work 

Chair of the campaign group Grenfell Unitedm Shahin Sadafi said: “Worrying that a fire like Grenfell could happen again is something that keeps many of us awake at night. 

“When we met Dame Judith Hackitt we asked her for an outright ban on combustable cladding. We are disappointed and saddened that she didn’t listen to us and she didn’t listen to other experts. The cladding on the Grenfell Tower was deemed to be limited combustibility, but it cost 72 lives. It must be banned. We need to hear from Government a clear promise that these dangerous materials will never be used on homes again.

“This isn’t just about cladding - the whole system of building regulation is broken. The industry has too much influence over regulation and testing, desk-top studies are totally flawed, profit is valued more than people’s safety, and residents are left powerless. All of this must change. 

“This report is a start but we’ve had recommendations before, after the Lakanal House fire and they were ignored - so we’re asking Dame Judith Hackitt to finished job she has started and make sure this report leads to a serious culture change across the industry. 

“Grenfell United will keep fighting until everyone is safe in their homes.”

Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy described the review as a “betrayal and a whitewash.” 

He added: “It is unthinkable and unacceptable that so many people can die in a disaster like Grenfell and one year on flammable cladding has not been banned. I will continue to stand with the Grenfell families and will continue to call for an outright ban on any combustible materials. 

“The Grenfell families and the public needed a review that was fearless in standing up to the industry on behalf of all those who lost their lives in Grenfell with recommendations that ensure that an atrocity like Grenfell can never happen again. 

“I simply fail to see how it is deemed appropriate for any combustible material to be used on any tower block in this country and I find it unfathomable that this review has not recommended an outright ban on the use of combustible material.” 

Emma Dent-Coad, Labour MP for Kensington, echoed the sentiment by tweeting: “I honestly cannot believe the result of this review: regulating the current system is not the answer. It is a total betrayal and the government needs to take action now. Why are we having to say this? Ban flammable cladding.” 

Tory peer Gary Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “The Grenfell Tower fire exposed a system for ensuring buildings are safe which is broken. Since the tragedy, the LGA has led calls for a review of building regulations and made the case for systemic change. It is good that Dame Judith’s report agrees that the current system is not fit for purpose and has set out a range of recommendations for its long-term reform.

“However, our immediate priority is to ensure that a fire like that at Grenfell never happens again, and to make certain the buildings which people live, visit and work in are safe today. It is therefore disappointing that Dame Judith has stopped short of recommending a ban on combustible materials and the use of desktop studies, both essential measures to improve safety.

“The Government should nevertheless act without delay to introduce a temporary ban on the use of combustible materials on complex and high-rise buildings and until we have a regulatory and testing system which is fit for the 21st Century. As the use and misuse of desktop studies has been at the heart of the problem, the LGA also remains clear that the use of desktop studies that attempt to approve safety compliance must also be banned.

“This would provide the clarity for building owners who need to know what they can use to replace dangerous cladding and insulation and immediately help keep buildings safer.”

Responding to criticism that her report failed to recommend the banning of combustible cladding, Dame Judith said: “If people feel I haven’t gone far enough and for this system to work in the future requires, in addition, that there is further clarity or indeed banning of some of the materials which are currently used, I don’t have a problem with that.

“What I will be disappointed about is if people think simply banning cladding is going to fix this problem. It is a broken system and banning cladding on its own is not going to fix it.”

She said non-compliant materials have found their way through the system, adding: “If we simply ban some more of those materials we will not resolve a problem which is actually about a broken system.”

However, Dame Judith’s recommendation did receive support from the London Fire Brigade.

Dan Daly, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: “We understand why many would want materials such as ACM (aluminium composite material) cladding banned but The Brigade agrees with Dame Judith Hackitt’s conclusion this would not help safety in the long term. It’s more important that the review concentrates on appropriate testing regimes for building materials, tighter regulations and ensuring that competent people are making decisions about building safety.

“Context is as important as raw materials when it comes to making buildings safe. For example, a type of material used in an low rise office block could be safe but dangerous if used in a high rise block

from: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-tower-fire-report-condemned-for-failing-to-ban-flammable-cladding_uk_5afd3960e4b0a59b4e00abdb

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