Tower Block Disaster

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pwa
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby pwa » 14 Jun 2017, 4:49pm

landsurfer wrote:Which brings us back to my previous post .... surely this cladding / foam should be fire proof or fire retardant ???
Just about every council house in the Rotherham area has it fitted with a rendered / pebble dash finish.
Was the contractor tasked with fitting fireproof foam, possibly very expensive.
And actually fitted a cheaper product.
There was no alloy skin installed on my daughters house .... just foam rendered over.
Councils all over the UK must be about to hit panic stage.


Not such a big deal on a two or three storey building, where flames licking up the outside of the building will occur only when a fire is well established and people have got out. Fires normally get going inside. It does look like it may be a really bad idea on tower blocks, though.

thirdcrank
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby thirdcrank » 14 Jun 2017, 4:51pm

... Councils all over the UK must be about to hit panic stage.


It's people living in tower blocks who won't sleep well tonight.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Tangled Metal » 14 Jun 2017, 4:54pm

IIRC class refers to the material, as does the lower part numbers of the bs476. Part 20 IIRC is about the fire test , part 22 relates to the test on the structure as it would be used.

I'm sorry but I'm out of that business years ago and have forgotten more than I remember. It is something to see a test though. Good to see one pass but the failures are interesting too. You know it's a spectacular failure when the test technicians remove equipment to stop them melting. Plus before doing that kitting up in full heat protection suit first! Needless to say I was in a well insulated room with thick, toughened glass between me and the large furnace room the test was being done in.

IIRC stability and insulation are the two factors being measured.

AlaninWales
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby AlaninWales » 14 Jun 2017, 5:04pm

thirdcrank wrote:
... Councils all over the UK must be about to hit panic stage.


It's people living in tower blocks who won't sleep well tonight.

Indeed.

Back in the '80s looking for my first independent place to live, I would visit a prospective flat and spin right around and ride away if it was a tower block. Even back then there were enough areas of concern over the construction. We should surely not be in a place where flammable polystyrene or
polyurethane cladding is used on these buildings at all; but apparently we still do (despite solutions like mineral fibre being available).

Then there is apparently the question of the un-boxed gas risers.

TM: The tests are described in the paper. In 2009 at least the tests requiring several metres of the cladding and ensuring that it didn't spread flame were advisory only. The mandatory test was simply that the covering material didn't collapse when exposed to a flame for a few seconds (paraphrase - see article for details).

Can anyone find the 2013 updates to this?

pwa
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby pwa » 14 Jun 2017, 5:09pm

I've always wondered about the fire implications of the polystyrene insulation you pick up in B&Q to pack in voids in the roof of your house. But then I reason that once a fire has reached the roof the house is a goner anyway and everybody should already be out. I'd not want much of that stuff on floors lower than the one I and my family are on.

You would think and hope that buildings of mass occupation would have to meet very stringent standards to get a fire certificate, well above what is needed for a house. We don't yet know for sure what happened with that building, but it is obvious that there must have been one or more failings somewhere. I wonder how many thousands of people are going to go to bed tonight in buildings that are not safe.

old_windbag
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby old_windbag » 14 Jun 2017, 5:21pm

If alaninwales info is what is advised in that the cladding does not need to be non-combustible then my head is in my hands. Are we really so stupid as to allow that? It would beggar belief. All the years of fire and flood incidents leading to improved safety and materials and they would let this through. If so then i'm absolutely staggered. When you design something you take into consideration all expected eventualities and design for safety of users, surely in this situation fire would have been considered an obvious risk. Also set as a test prior to supply of materials.

I despair and if it is the case then the people concerned have a heavy debt on their shoulders, poor tenants they should never have experienced this. Nor any others in the future.

I believe there are polystyrene panels beneath "floating floors", i have them i think, my walls have that foil covered insulation block. Timber frame construction, but in a house thats easy to get out of even at 2 floors. I think sheeps wool makes a great insulator too but has to be treated as in a fire it gives off cyanide? Tangled metal may know the answer to that.

AlaninWales
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby AlaninWales » 14 Jun 2017, 5:48pm

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/14/disaster-waiting-to-happen-fire-expert-slams-uk-tower-blocks
Fire safety in UK buildings is governed by part B of the Building Regulations, a document that has not been subject to an in-depth review since 2006 (by contrast, other parts are reviewed every two years). A 2015 survey by the Fire Sector Federation, a forum for fire and rescue organisations, found that 92% of its members believed the regulations were “long overdue an overhaul”, claiming that they do not reflect today’s design and construction methods and that research underpinning the guidance is out of date. The coroner in the Lakanal House case also called for a review of part B, as the evidence pointed to a risk of further deaths in the future unless changes were made, with about 4,000 tower blocks in the UK remaining subject to outdated regulations.
Which would suggest that the 2009 summary I linked to is still the latest regulations (flammable cladding is allowed) and advice (it's really a good idea if cladding is not flammable). This appears confirmed by
“The issue is that, under building regulations, only the surface of the cladding has to be fire-proofed to class 0, which is about surface spread,” says Tarling. “The stuff behind it doesn’t, and it’s this which has burned.”

and
Dr Jim Glocking, technical director of the Fire Protection Association (FPA), thinks our standards need a fundamental overhaul. He says he has been campaigning for years to see fire safety standards improved, to no avail.

“We have been very concerned about the introduction of highly combustible products into buildings,” he says. “They are often being introduced on the back of the sustainability agenda, but it’s sometimes being done recklessly without due consideration to the consequences. It’s not uncommon for buildings to have blocks of polystyrene up to 30cm deep on the outside, which is an extraordinary quantity of combustible material to be sticking on to a building. There are often ventilation voids between the rainscreen cladding and the insulation to prevent damp, but this also increases the spread of flames.”

He says UK fire regulations are unique in focusing on simply evacuating people before the building falls down, but not on properly tackling the ingress of fire from outside. “Our regulations are generally very good at keeping people safe,” he says, “but they work on a presumption that fires start inside buildings and that the method for protecting people is to ensure that it stays in the room of origin, doesn’t get to any neighbouring rooms, and certainly doesn’t get to any floors above. But they do not cater for fires ingressing into the building from outside or spreading to the external cladding, which appears to be what happened at Grenfell Tower.”

“We really are forgetting the lessons of the past,” he adds. “I think the inexcusable element here is that with cladding or insulation there are choices. There will be a perfectly good non-combustible choice that can be made, but somebody is not making those calls. It’s a tragedy that long-awaited changes to regulations usually only happen after significant loss of life.”

Sorry about the long quote, but it seems pertinent.

old_windbag
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby old_windbag » 14 Jun 2017, 6:05pm

Very pertinent. Also that people can think that a flammable external layer cant generate the heat to shatter glass and ignite blinds curtains ad infinitum. A sad state of affairs indeed.

yakdiver
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby yakdiver » 14 Jun 2017, 6:23pm

I think if I lived in a tower block I'd learn to abseil a bit quick
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landsurfer
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby landsurfer » 14 Jun 2017, 6:38pm

yakdiver wrote:I think if I lived in a tower block I'd learn to abseil a bit quick


Premier Inn are way ahead of you ...
We stopped in a Prem Inn in London some years ago, below the window (on the inside :roll: ) was a steel eye and in the wardrobe was fall arrest equipment, ropes and instructions on how to throw yourself out the window in the event of a fire ...... really comforting... at least there was'nt a "toilet snorkel" ....
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reohn2
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby reohn2 » 14 Jun 2017, 7:48pm

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Paulatic
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Paulatic » 14 Jun 2017, 8:37pm

This report from April has been kept secret.
http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/business ... 13.article
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Tangled Metal
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby Tangled Metal » 14 Jun 2017, 9:11pm

I don't think it's been a secret kept from public's eyes. More likely public doesn't feel the need to become experts in everything about modern life but rely on experts to make serious hazards known and mitigate them.

A very long time ago I did work for a manufacturer who made various passive fire protection products as a small but still important part of their product portfolio. Back then we, as responsible company, were very cautious. We offered advice but only based on what we had tests or consultancy reports to support. We used the cover of WFRC and TRADA as experts on the field to determine what.our products are capable of and should be used for.

Our products were basically various forms of mineral wool combined with other materials. Tech consisted of ablative coatings, materials that expanded with heat/fire such that it fills any void created by pipes melting. Other things like that. Mostly designed to resist the spread of fire and smoke. Good products that work but only if installed correctly. Not completely problem free but nothing is.

One thing I recall about those days is gaps with long runs isn't a good idea. A lot of our products were about compartmentalizing such things. I don't know how this cladding is installed but I'd personally want to use materials that do not support the surface spread of fire and gaps do not extend for great distances in any direction. For example cavities above suspended ceilings use fire resisting barriers no greater than 25 m apart. I thought that was all in the codes, document/part B. If not then it seems we advised customers (architects, builders, distributors, etc) at a higher standard than required. We were highly conscious of a fire exposing us to company closing liability claim.

Personally I don't really have any insight into current codes/regulations or this event. Only from my experience I.don't think anything is simple. There's so much potential for things to go wrong. You can't conclude fire service funding, cladding, insulation, installation short cuts, outdated regulations or anything that has been speculated on so far is the cause or problem that caused this.

landsurfer
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby landsurfer » 14 Jun 2017, 9:35pm

Paulatic wrote:This report from April has been kept secret.
http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/business ... 13.article


Well obviously it isn't ..... You copied it from a public access source .... :roll:
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pete75
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Re: Tower Block Disaster

Postby pete75 » 14 Jun 2017, 9:58pm

landsurfer wrote:
Paulatic wrote:This report from April has been kept secret.
http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/business ... 13.article


Well obviously it isn't ..... You copied it from a public access source .... :roll:


Yes but either it was a secret as far as the councillors who run the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea were concerned or they knew about it and didn't care.