The government has established a webpage drawing together the latest news, advice and guidance on its programme to ensure fire safety at high rise buildings fitted with potentially flammable external insulation cladding following the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The webpage explains the checking and testing programme underway by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to identify high rise public and private buildings fitted with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding of the type involved in the Grenfell fire.
The webpage also draws together the various advice issued so far to landlords and building owners in the public and private sectors on the process to follow to arrange for fire safety tests on samples of ACM cladding on high rise buildings, such as social housing blocks, hospitals and schools. It also lists the DCLG guidance provided on how to take immediate interim measures to manage fire safety in buildings which pose a concern.
The webpage was launched as the government announced details of a newly announced testing programme for cladding systems aimed at assessing how different types of ACM panels behave in combination with different types of insulation in a fire. The tests – which will be carried out by the Building Research Establishment – will look at three different types of ACM cladding combined with different types of insulation.
According to the government, the results of the tests will help building owners make decisions about any further action they need to take to make buildings safe, or to assure themselves that existing cladding systems are already safe.
Photo: Flickr; ChiralJon
Commenting on the latest tests, communities secretary Sajid Javid said: "It has taken a short time to design and set up the test, but we expect the first results to be available next week [w/c Monday 24 July].
"As soon as results are available we will share them first with local authorities and housing associations who have confirmed that their properties are clad in the same combination of materials that are used in that test.
"We will also, of course, share them with the local fire and rescue service.
"The results will provide further information that building owners and their professional advisers can use to take decisions about what, if any, remedial action is required."
He added: "Although legal responsibility for fire safety enforcement lies with local authorities, I do have the power to direct an authority to consider these test results as part of their duty to keep housing conditions under review.
"If necessary, I will not hesitate to use this power, which could lead to enforcement action being taken against a landlord if a fire risk is not dealt with. I do hope it will not come to that."
The full list of government announcements and actions in light of the disaster can be found here.
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