Jane Embury looks at fire safety and some disturbing facts emerging from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
As a company involved in the design, fabrication and supply of advanced glazing systems, our business is all about safety.
All of those tests have been carried out on our compatible systems. That means testing both the glass and its framing system.
As we never tire of advising, if either the glass or its framing system fails, both fail.
That could render useless a system that on paper delivers 120 minutes of fire safety. When it comes to fire safety, always specify the glass and frame as one unit.
But we also do something else at Wrightstyle, and that’s train installers in how to properly fit our systems.
The reason we offer this service is that advanced glazing systems can’t be installed in the same way as a non-fire system.
It’s all about making sure that installers know how to safely fit our systems into their surrounding structures.
Our end-to-end focus on quality means that our systems are complete and guaranteed, giving our customers peace of mind. Peace of mind also for those who live and work in buildings protected by Wrightstyle’s systems.
But we’re no longer surprised that safety is still being compromised through the design and construction process.
We have, for example, repeatedly warned of contractors reducing specifications for 60 minutes of fire resistance down to 30 minutes.
Quite legal within current regulations, but an exercise solely to reduce cost. People don’t evacuate buildings quickly, and those extra 30 minutes could be vital.
The issue of training is also important. We frequently come across fire-rated systems that, because of poor installation, are anything but safe.
So, it came as no surprise when, at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, it was reported that the local authority building control officer responsible for inspecting the Grenfell Tower refurbishment did not have the right experience.
He had no previous experience of an over-cladding project on an occupied high-rise residential building.
The fire on 14th June 2017 killed 72 people. He accepted that there were “serious failings” in his work.
To compound that, the Inquiry also heard that a subcontractor installing cladding and insulation to Grenfell Tower had not received any guidance on how to fit cavity barriers.
A previous report had already found that some horizontal cavity barriers had been installed in a vertical position, as well as uncovering poorly-fitting and cut cavity barriers.
A director of the installers confirmed to the Inquiry that they hadn’t received any guidance from the manufacturer on how to install the cavity barriers.
Of course, that’s not to suggest that those failures contributed to the disaster in any way. That will be for the Inquiry to determine.
Rather, it again underlines how building safety can, and is, being undermined by the wrong products and systems being installed by inexperienced people, with inadequate safety inspection.
We can only hope that from the Grenfell Tower disaster come new fire safety regulations, and a reformed inspection regime that’s fit for purpose.
Photo: One of our systems being successfully tested against a lorry bomb.