After the tragedy of Grenfell Tower the testing of cladding became the government’s top priority. On 20 June the government wrote to all local authorities and social landlords requiring them to submit samples of the cladding materials made of aluminium composite material (ACM) for testing from tower blocks and especially on buildings over six storeys or 18 metres high.
ACMs are made of aluminium composite material; they are flat panels consisting of two thin coil coated aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core of polyethylene, polyurethane, profiled metal or a mineral core. Aluminium composite panels are frequently used for external cladding or facades of buildings. The panels are not for insulation purposes rather as rain screening to prevent excess moisture hitting the main structure.
Grenfell Tower was clad in aluminium composite panels with a polyethylene core, with insulation made of polyisocyanurate foam. On 26th June police revealed that both the cladding and the insulation had failed a test.
This tragedy should now be the paradigm shift for all managing agents to do regular, robust fire risk assessments and for God’s sake take action immediately when a serious threat is found.