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Headline

Bolton fire: Anger over ‘cladding lottery’ after blaze at student flats

Comment

Thank goodness no serious injuries there, but that's due to the skill of the firefighters, the presence of more than one staircase, the relative mobility of students and probably no 'stay-put' policy. Having been involved as an Architect in the removal of other designer's & contractors dangerous and flammable cladding (on 30 tower blocks with another 8 in progress) then replacement with completely fireproof mineral fibre based EWI (external wall insulation) this fire utterly appals me, but it's no real surprise as there are still numerous buildings like this (and worse) that present a huge unacceptable fire risk. Those building owners and managers know who they are and should be dealing with their buildings now. NO excuses not to! The fact that there are still readily available and advertised materials that are not completely fireproof, and that Building Regulations have not yet been fully clarified and amended is a matter of national disgrace irrespective of politics and finance or the professions of those that specified and fitted them. I don’t know what RADM’s brief was nor their procurement route, but Trespa Meteon or similar systems seem to have been fitted to many tall buildings, new and old. These buildings and systems should be rapidly and properly tested, then remediated if necessary. What is particularly infuriating is that many of the buildings constructed or refurbished over the past 5 to 10 years have been carried out on a ‘Design & Build’ basis for developers who have set up single project companies. Those single project companies made huge profits and insisted that the contractors and Architects sign collateral warranties, and then, after a while went into liquidation meaning that in numerous cases their Directors have avoided liability for the buildings, the designs and the costs of remediation. The D&B contractors and subcontractors have also in some cases gone into liquidation to avoid the same onerous liabilities because they changed what the Architect had properly specified as completely fire resistant on cost saving grounds, knowing that on a D&B contract the contractor calls the shots and the Architect has no remit to, or is not even permitted to inspect what is being built on site. So, in some cases the only people who are being asked or demanded to pay for the repairs are normal citizens who bought an apartment in a development and cannot afford, in any way, to pay the costs of the repairs and may face bankruptcy and/or homelessness. Some are challenging this in the courts, others can’t afford to. A totally iniquitous situation which the government, of whatever political persuasion, should resolve very rapidly!

Posted date

18 November, 2019

Posted time

4:55 pm

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