Non-Fireproof Cladding Found on UK Apartment


In a mandated safety review of buildings conducted as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire, cladding panels labeled “non-fire retardant” were discovered in the Chips apartment block, located in Manchester.

According to the Manchester Evening News, the label was found on the back of fire panels that had been stripped from the building after a safety inspection.

Safety Assessment

Despite being given approval by a building inspector when the structure was completed in 2009, the Chips apartment block failed the most recent safety assessment, which was conducted by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

The Will Alsop-designed complex was constructed for designer Urban Splash, and at the time of its completion received “Building Regulations Approval, as well as Premier Warranty approval; a full Final Building Control Certificate was then issued in September 2009,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Residential Management Group confirmed that the cladding was made of a fiber composite known as Trespa.

Residents Billed

Due to the findings, RMG has appointed fire wardens to remain onsite for 24 hours a day, in order for the building to remain open. This has resulted in the management company billing the residents of the building what equates to $244,000 for the cost of the wardens and subsequent building analysis.

This breaks down to $3,775 per residence.

“A large number of us are united in not paying these bills even though we’ve been told if the fire wardens are not in place they will have to close the building,” one unnamed homeowner told Manchester Evening News.

RMG operations director Justin Herbert confirmed that some cladding system risks had been identified during analysis, and that the firm was seeking legal advice.

“The charges are being applied as per the terms of their lease,” Herbert said. “We will continue to seek advice in relation to a claim against a build warranty or any other form of recourse.”

Urban Splash sold the build’s freehold to E&J Estates in 2012.

Grenfell Inquiry

Since the Grenfell Fire in June, multiple investigations have taken place into not only the cladding of high rises, but into the construction industry itself.

An interim report from the building regulations review that was ordered after London’s Grenfell Tower fire has found that the regulatory system for London's buildings is “not fit for purpose,” and left the conductor of the review “shocked” at what she saw.

Dame Judith Hackitt, a chemical engineer, led the review and issued her preliminary report to Parliament on Dec. 18. Calling for a complete overhaul of the construction industry, the report details concerns with privatization of inspections and a lack of knowledge among local authorities.

Hackitt says that the way regulations are written is causing a problem. Partly because there are too many opportunities for loopholes and shortcuts, she says, but also because many are made to be more complex then they need to be, resulting in a lack of understanding on how to enforce—or even look for—certain requirements.

The final report is due this spring.


Tagged categories: Building codes; Building Envelope; Europe; Fire; Government; Health and safety; Regulations; Safety

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