Grenfell Tower: Expert Panel recommends further tests on cladding and insulation

The independent Grenfell Tower Fire Advisory Panel, which is made up of a range of building and fire safety experts and chaired by Sir Ken Knight, has advised further testing to be conducted in an attempt to help landlords ensure the safety of their buildings.

The Panel says these large-scale tests, which will be carried out by the BRE and will not require any new samples, will help establish how different types of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) panels, in combination with different types of insulation behave in a fire.

The further tests – which will look at three different types of ACM cladding combined with different types of insulation – will be in accordance with British Standard 8414 in line with the Panel’s advice. This involves building a 9m tall demonstration wall with a complete cladding system – including panels and insulation – fixed to it, and then subjecting it to a fire that replicates a severe fire in a flat breaking out of a window and whether it then spreads up the outside wall.

The Government is said to have commissioned the Building Research Establishment to undertake these tests as a matter of urgency and the results will be made publicly available.

The Expert Panel has concluded that six combinations of cladding systems should be subjected to the BS 8414 test procedure. The panel says it will review the detailed design of each of the six to ensure it is representative of the systems that are in common use, including the way it is fixed.

It is reported that the six systems will incorporate each of the three common types of ACM panels, with core filler materials of unmodified polyethylene, fire retardant polyethylene, and non-combustible mineral. The two insulation materials used in the testing will be rigid polyisocyanurate foam or non-combustible mineral wool.