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Grenfell Tower’s cladding safety rating had been downgraded before fire

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The safety rating of the cladding on the Grenfell Tower had been downgraded before it was installed on the west London high-rise, it has emerged

Fire safety tests carried out as early as 2014 showed the Reynobond PE cladding had failed to reach the manufacturer’s own safety standards, according to a BBC investigation.

The product maker, Arconic, knew in 2014 that the test rating had changed but, according to the BBC, building product approvals body the British Board of Agrément (BBA) says it was not informed.

Arconic told the BBC it did share the downgraded rating with ’various customers and certification authorities’.

It also said the results were also published on the website of the French facility that carried out the tests in 2014 and 2015.

The cladding was installed two years before the blaze that killed 71 residents as it swept through the high-rise last June.

Fire-resistant zinc cladding had originally been specified to be used on the tower before its refurbishment in 2015.

However, it was later swapped for Arconic’s Reynobond PE, comprised of panels made of aluminium and plastic, to make savings of £300,000.

In standard European tests for fire safety, products are rated A to F, with A being the best. Reynobond PE had a fire safety rating of B.

But the BBC investigation uncovered a series of reports commissioned by the manufacturer in 2014 and 2015, during which two configurations of the cladding, both later to be fitted at Grenfell, were tested.

One type, classified as ‘riveted’, was given a classification of C, not B as was stated on the certificate. Another, ‘cassette system’ cladding was classified as E, though the reports suggest the tests were not completed.

Since the Grenfell disaster, Arconic has withdrawn Reynobond PE from the market and the company has been forced to disclose evidence to police and the Grenfell Tower public inquiry.

According to the BBC, as well as insisting it had published the classification results Arconic also suggested the BBA certificate could not be relied on alone as a mark of fire safety.

Its statement said: ‘The relevant UK building codes and regulations require entities who design the cladding system, such as architects, fabricators, contractors, or building owners, to conduct their own full systems testing or analysis of the entire cladding system.’

Nearly 10 months on from the disaster, many of the families made homeless by the blaze remain in temporary housing or hotels. 

Kensington Council has awarded a contract worth £2 million to a property maintenance company to bring homes acquired for displaced residents up to a ‘suitable lettable standard’.

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