Grenfell Tower repercussions

Published:  17 May, 2018

Government announces it will fully fund unsafe cladding removal in social housing; fire doors also in the limelight.

The UK government will fully fund the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding by councils and housing associations, estimated at GB£400 million (US$540 million), it was announced yesterday (16 May).

Local authorities and housing associations will be given access to the money to help with reasonable costs of removing and replacing unsafe cladding in their buildings.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the government’s building safety programme established that non-compliant aluminium composite material cladding on buildings over 18m should be remediated by the building owners.

The government said it would also continue to provide financial flexibilities to councils for other essential fire safety measures and is directing local authorities to take cladding-related issues into account when carrying out reviews of housing conditions in their areas.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that over 65%, or 104 out of 158, of social housing buildings with unsafe cladding are currently going through the process of remediation.

The additional money is intended to enable social housing providers to focus on providing safe properties for people to live in.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: “We have always been clear that unsafe cladding must be removed from tower blocks so that people are safe in their own homes. But we do not want vital safety work to put at risk our high priority house-building programmes. So we have decided to provide funding to ensure that housing associations and councils can carry out this vital work. The government is clear that building owners in the private sector must ensure private sector homes are made safe.”

An industry roundtable attended by the Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP is expected to take place shortly to ensure that remediation work is completed as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the deputy director of the Building Safety Programme of the Ministry of Housing, Chandru Dissanayeke, has written to customers of fire-door supplier Manse Masterdor to request that they review their buildings’ fire risk assessments over concerns of the performance of some fire door models.

The letter follows an investigation by the Expert Panel on Building Safety that found some doors do not consistently meet the 30-minute fire resistance standard. The issue was identified when a fire door supplied by Manse Masterdor and installed at Grenfell Tower failed a fire test after approximately 15 minutes.

The National Fire Chiefs Council has asked that the responsible person provide details of the buildings where the Manse Masterdor doors have been installed. The assessment should also consider how quickly these doors should be replaced. The fire door supplier ceased trading in 2014.

An advice note from the Building Safety Programme has also been issued for the attention of anyone responsible for the fire safety of residential flats that is concerned about the fire and smoke resistance performance of flat entrance front doors.

Amongst its recommendations are that flat entrance doorsets should be replaced if they are suspected of not meeting the fire or smoke resistance performance in the Building Regulations guidance. It points out that the Building Regulations in England and associated guidance in Approved Document B clarify flat entrance doorsets that allow access directly into the dwelling from a shared or communal corridor should achieve at least 30 minutes fire resistance, with additional requirements for smoke leakage. It also says that fire risk assessment processes should be used to determine how urgently such doors should be replaced.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

  • Operation Florian

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