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It is unfortunate but often the case, that sometimes it takes
a real catastrophe to address the weaknesses of a system
and the Grenfell Tower fi re is a prime example.
As investigations surrounding the tragic event continue,
construction product testing is one of the latest areas to come
under scrutiny, after it emerged that the current UK fi re safety
test for cladding fails to properly asses risk and requires “urgent
review” (see page 6).
Describing the current building control system as “broken”,
Huw Evans, director general of the ABI, which commissioned
a report into the testing of cladding following the fi re, called
for “fundamental reform” in order to keep our homes and
commercial premises safe. We must, he said, “create the right
testing regime that properly replicates real-world conditions and
keeps pace with building innovation and modern design.”
The FPA, which carried out the study, noted that while the
current BSI test assumes that the cladding will be used as the
manufacturer intended, in real-life applications, it can often be
damaged by vents or ducts, or contain gaps in the façade due
to poor workmanship, potentially creating a lethal tinder-box
effect, that is not considered in the current tests.
And worryingly, it’s not just the performance of cladding that
can be negatively affected by ‘real-world’ factors or bad practice.
Incorrect installation of any product, or even the use of a wrong
component, down to a tiny fi xing, could render the most highlyrated
fi re-proof, safety or security innovation useless.
With the Hackitt review drawing its conclusions at the
time of writing, we can only hope the serious questions raised
regarding standards, regulation and compliance within the
construction sector resulting from such a terrible event, can
eventually effect positive change.
I hope you enjoy the issue.
Sophie Stevens, Editor
MAY | BUILDING PRODUCTS