UK association backs calls for London tower fire investigation

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Photo by London Fire Department

The British Urethane Foam Manufacturers Association (BRUFMA) is backing a call for a “full and proper investigation” into all the circumstances of the recent Grenfell Tower fire in London which has so far claimed 79 lives.

The fire happened on 14-15 June 2017 at a Local Authority tower block in London. According to documents seen by UTECH-polyurethane.com, material from Celotex designated Celotex FR 5000, was specified in a planning note of 2012. However, the firm said on its website that it has been contracted to supply RS 5000 boards.

Simon Storer, chairman of BRUFMA, said “we know it [FR5000] was specified originally, but whether it was used, where it was used and whether it was used correctly are questions need to be answered as quickly as possible. We all want to understand what happened for the sake of the residents, the sake of the industry and everybody else involved.”

Storer added that although the material is specified in the planning note, “the work wasn’t started until 2016, it’s not unusual for product replacement to occur because of changes in contractors.”

BRUFMA’s Storer called for the investigation to establish “what other work had been carried out, to what standard.”

Under British law, this could be a public enquiry ordered by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, or alternatively, families of the victims of the fire can demand inquests investigate the deaths of each of the occupants of the tower. Inquests are formal legal proceedings with a jury, which would decide on the causes of death such as unlawful killing or accident.

A statement on Celotex website reads: “With the rest of the nation our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London. On Wednesday (14 June), as soon as we were able to, we confirmed that our records showed a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. We wanted to provide an update to that statement and provide further information as we are able to.

It is important to state that Celotex manufacture rigid board insulation only. We do not manufacture, supply or install cladding. Insulation is one component in a rainscreen system, and is positioned in that system behind the cladding material.

As we previously stated, our records show a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. This product has a fire rating classification of Class 0, in accordance with British Standards. Celotex RS5000 is the insulation component specifically tested as part of a system to British Standard BS8414-2:2005. When the system is designed and installed in line with this, RS5000 meets the criteria set out in BRE Report BR 135 ‘Fire performance of external thermal insulation for walls of multi storey buildings.’

We will of course assist the relevant authorities fully with any enquiries they have.”

The Cleotext website describes RS5000 as: “Suitable for use in warm steel frame constructions for ventilated facade applications, Celotex RS5000 can be used in buildings above 18 metres in height – a first for PIR insulation.

With low emissivity textured aluminium foil facings, Celotex RS5000 comprises rigid polyisocyanurate foam core (PIR) using a blowing agent that has low global warming potential (GWP) and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP).

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