95 high-rise buildings across the United Kingdom found to fail fire safety tests following disastrous Grenfell Tower blaze
Officials began demanding landlords across the UK submit exterior cladding samples of their high-rise buildings for fire-testing following the June 14 fire at Grenfell Tower, which left 79 dead and countless others wounded.
Prime Minister Theresa May declared a “major national investigation” must be undertaken, as exterior cladding during a recent renovation of Grenfell Tower was found to have been a significant cause of worsening the fire.
Officials estimate up to 600 buildings across the country may have the dangerous cladding, which has been installed to the exterior of hundreds of housing blocks built throughout the 1960’s and 70’s to improve insulation and appearance.
Grenfell Tower’s cladding was non-fire resistant, a factor which contributed towards rapidly spreading the fire, resulting in both a police investigation and official public inquiry.
Minister Sajid Javid stated he was “concerned” with the slow pace of submissions by landlords, considering the facility responsible for analyzing and testing the fire-safety of the samples can test up to 100 samples per day.
The local government estimated 1,000 new fire doors must be ordered for five high-rise housing blocks in Camden, one of London’s boroughs, after an inspection by officials.
Grenfell Tower is due to be refurbished at the cost of $11 million by construction company Rydon, a project that will be sure to meet “all required building regulations”.
An international cause for concern
The cladding material used on hundreds of buildings, including Grenfell Tower, throughout the UK are also used and unregulated in other countries.
”We know of fires in China . . . fires in the Middle East, fires in this country and also in France.” said construction expert and leading litigation lawyer Matthew Needham-Laing.
However, Needham-Laing added that flammable external cladding doesn’t definitively make a building unsafe: “You ma use an element of the building that you know can be combustible . . . but you then . . . put in these other factors that mitigate it. It might be a sprinkler system . . . drencher system . . . additional staircases . . . You can’t look at one individual bit and say ‘fix that and ignore the rest of it’. It’s the whole thing”