Socialist Worker

New fears over safety of cladding after tests

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2612

Marking the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire last month

Marking the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire last month (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Further doubts have been cast over fire safety in Britain just over a year after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Cladding system Vitracore G2 has been found to be unsafe. It may be replacing cladding stripped from buildings in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

It is made from parts that were previously presumed to be of “limited combustibility”. But tests found it to be combustible.

Distributor Valcan had previously said the cladding system was safe and had passed its required tests.

On top of this, the BS-8414 tests that are the industry standard have already been found to be faulty.

They are supposed to be “full system” tests, but they only test a small area of cladding.

They have been found to fail to replicate how fires behave in the real world.

Over 300 residential buildings have failed the BS-8414 tests, but many more could have passed and still be unsafe.

These latest revelations add to a devastating body of evidence exposing the fatal consequences of decades of deregulation in the building and fire safety industries.

Environmental health professionals have approached the government to ask for updated guidance on how to report hazards.

Faulty

They argued they can’t report hazards such as faulty fire doors or electrical equipment because the current guidance doesn’t address these issues.

Changes to the guidelines were proposed in April, backed by 97 percent of environmental health professionals and a committee of MPs. They argued the changes were needed to make clear “whether a property meets minimum standards”.

But Tory ministers have now rejected the recommended changes to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. On top of this, ministers have delayed decisions on whether to introduce electrical safety inspections for residential properties every five years, and on the compulsory installation of carbon monoxide alarms.

And the Tories continue to treat the survivors of the Grenfell fire, and the bereaved, with contempt.

The Home Office failed to grant visa extensions to the three children of one victim, Fatima Afraseiabi, so that they can attend the inquiry into the fire. It wanted evidence that there was a “requirement to attend in person” for the three of them.

The Grenfell inquiry will take a break in August. After that it will hear from the core participants. These include some of the people and organisations responsible—Kensington and Chelsea council, the Tenant Management Organisation, and the Rydon firm which carried out the refurbishment.

As the people guilty of the murder of at least 72 people walk into the inquiry, they should be made to face the anger of ordinary people.

Grenfell Silent Walk—Saturday 14 July, 6pm, Notting Hill Methodist Church, 240 Lancaster Rd, London W11 4AH. Go to bit.ly/silentwalk14July

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