Report: Grenfell Cladding Had Been Downgraded


A new investigation suggests that the cladding fitted on the Grenfell Tower had been downgraded before it was installed on the London high-rise, the site of a fire that killed 71 people last June.

The Investigation

BBC News uncovered tests that were carried out in 2014 and 2015—when the tower was being refurbished—on Arconic’s Reynobond PE aluminum-panel cladding with plastic filling, which was fitted to Grenfell.

(Zinc cladding had originally been specified for the tower, but Reynobond PE was substituted for a savings of 300,000 pounds.)

The investigation shows that Reynobond PE was subjected to European tests for “reaction to fire,” in which products are typically given an A to F rating, with A being the highest. Many officials believed that the legal standard for such towers was a B rating. While that belief had been contested among industry professionals, the legal minimum rating now, post-Grenfell fire, has been upgraded to A.

The reports from the 2014-15 tests reveal that two types of the Reynobond, both of which were installed at Grenfell, had less than B ratings. One type, called “riveted,” received a C classification, while another, “cassette” received an E classification.

The BBC obtained correspondence from Arconic to clients confirming the ratings, and while such results typically aren’t released to the public, they are required to be released to the British Board of Agrément, which says that it was not notified of the classification changes.

Inspectors who sign off on the building products would be using the BBA’s database to confirm that the materials are suitable.

Arconic, which no longer sells Reynobond PE, issued a statement to the BBC saying in part: "We previously provided the classification results to various customers and certification authorities, and they were also posted on the CSTB's publicly available website.”

Beyond this investigation, Arconic is cooperating with investigations from police as well as the accident’s public inquiry.


Tagged categories: EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Fatalities; Fire; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Safety

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