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'Absolute failure': Grenfell cladding fails new 'as installed' fire test

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The cladding system used on Grenfell Tower has failed a fire safety test carried out by Building Research Establishment (BRE), according to a report on BBC2’s Newsnight programme

The test, which replicated the system used in the tower block, was the first of six on combinations of insulation and exterior panelling, according to the programme.

It involved creating a test rig of panels with horizontal and vertical fire stopping, using PIR plastic foam insulation and aluminium panels with a combustible polyethylene plastic core.

Chris Cook, the programme’s policy editor, said: ‘The critical thing about this test is that it is a test on the choice of materials used in Grenfell, installed perfectly.

‘This isn’t about “maybe they messed up the installation”, “maybe they didn’t include fire breaks”.

‘They conducted a test with all of the fire breaks in place and it burnt. The whole test was an absolute failure.’

The government is set to officially release the BRE’s test findings within days. If Newsnight’s findings are confirmed, it raises questions over how the materials were signed off for use on the building.

They conducted a test with all of the fire breaks in place and it burnt – it was an absolute failure

Cook said: ‘The building industry has got into the habit of using materials on tall buildings that fundamentally shouldn’t be on tall buildings.

‘If someone had followed the simple letter of the law and done a proper test two years ago, that cladding wouldn’t have been on that building.’

Neither the BRE nor the Department for Communities and Local Government would comment on the result of the test when contacted by the AJ.

A DCLG spokesman said: ‘Following advice from the Expert Advisory Panel, we commissioned six large-scale tests to help establish how different wall systems behave in a fire. These tests are being carried out urgently and we will publish results as soon as possible.

‘We’ve already issued practical advice so that landlords can make properties safe for residents, and our priority now is informing landlords of the latest results so that they can take any further actions that are necessary.’

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