As reported in our previous
bulletins, ARCH will ensure that members are kept up-to-date on
developments in fire safety following the tragic fire at Grenfell
Tower. ARCH will continue to assist members in their response to
this disaster and any ongoing actions arising from the fire.
As we now know, Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding
fitted to a significant number of high rise buildings failed the
initial Safety Tests ordered by the government following the
Grenfell Tower fire. On 6 July, the Expert Advisory Panel, set up
by the government, recommended further tests on cladding and insulation.
These large-scale tests will help establish how different types of
(ACM) panels in combination with different types of insulation
behave in a fire.
The results of these tests are expected to help landlords and
building owners to make decisions on any further measures that may
need to be put in place to make their buildings safe. These tests
will be undertaken by the Building Research Establishment and will
not require any new samples from buildings.
This type of cladding has been fitted to various buildings
across the country, not just local authority housing but also
residential accommodation owned by housing associations and private
residential accommodation, schools, hospitals and commercial
property such as hotels. In some cases, the landlords and owners of
these properties have begun to take action to remove the ACM
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DLCG) has
now written to all building control bodies in England including
local authorities building control departments and private sector
Approved Inspectors. It highlights key Building Regulations
requirements when cladding work on high rise buildings over 18
metres tall is undertaken.
Building control bodies are responsible for checking that work
complies with Building Regulations' requirements. It is the
responsibility of those carrying out the work to ensure that the
provisions of the regulations are fully met.
This followed advice from the Independent Expert Advisory Panel
whose members were particularly concerned that further risks are
not created in any new works undertaken by building owners.
At their third meeting, the Expert Advisory Panel recommended
that it would be wise to draw attention to the need to ensure that
any recladding work complies with all relevant Building
Regulations' requirements. In particular, requirements on
structural safety, resistance to moisture penetration and build up,
and energy efficiency need to be considered - as well as ensuring
that the fire safety requirements are met.
The letter sets out the Department's view that if building
owners consider that they need to re-clad their building, for
example following the results of recent screening for
identification of the type of ACM cladding in use, this should be
considered as building work and therefore subject to Building
The letter particularly draws the attention of building
control bodies to the following:
- Approaches to demonstrating compliance with fire safety
requirements, for example ensuring that cladding and insulation
used are of limited combustibility or that a whole wall cladding
system BS 8414 test is undertaken. The British Standard 8414
requires that a wall with a complete cladding system - including
panels and insulation - fixed to it, is then subject it to a fire
that replicates a severe fire in a flat breaking out of a window
and whether it then spread up the outside wall.
- Where panels are removed for inspection or testing purposes,
the integrity of the whole cladding system needs to be
- The structural design of any replacement cladding needs to be
checked - it should not be assumed that existing fixings and
systems are suitable for replacement systems.
- The need to ensure that replacement cladding systems or
components protect the building adequately from rain and
- Guidance on how to meet energy efficiency requirements when
Read the DCLG's letter.