Home News ‘the silent killer’ Looking into Grenfell’s deadly cladding

‘the silent killer’ Looking into Grenfell’s deadly cladding

‘the silent killer’ Looking into Grenfell’s deadly cladding

‘the silent killer’

Hundreds of towers have had their cladding ripped out this week after fears that the ‘silent killer‘ could contribute towards another deadly blaze.

Cladding is a material which is wrapped around tower blocks to improve energy efficiency.

It can also improve appearance, with companies plastering it on to the outside of buildings to help improve their macabre look, adding colourful panels over the concrete surfaces.

The panels were actually fitted onto Grenfell Tower in May 2017, part of a multi million pound project, with the cladding boards consisting of ‘zinc rain proof sheets’, designed to protect from weather and provide insulation.

So, why was the cladding responsible for the devastating speed in which the fire spread?

It has now been revealed that just a few short weeks before the shocking fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, the London Fire Brigade had warned the council on the dangers of cladding, expressing their concern that the coated foam panels posed a considerable flammable fire risk, and that the council and local authorities should look into either removing them, or requesting a full safety check of the building.

It has now also been revealed that the cladding used on Grenfell was an incredibly cheap form of foam boarding, it was also much more flammable than the other available options, a decision taken by the council to save both money and time in fitting the new boards.

The fact that the boards were also coated in a waterproof zinc coating also meant that the fire fighters were unable to actually douse the fire, with the water running off the boards, with witnesses detailing how the tower block went up like paper.

Yet more information has been revealed this week, stating that the specific type of cladding used on Grenfell is considered a death trap in America and banned nationwide!

Alongside all of these devastating facts is the undeniable information that a fire proof version of the cladding could have been purchased for simply £5,000 more, whilst the manufacturers of the cladding also clearly state that the material should not be used on buildings more than ten metres tall.

So, with the deeply saddening and utterly devastating fire at Grenfell, now becoming apparent as a fire which could have been avoided, are there any other buildings in the UK which use the same cladding? Let’s have a look.

Well, the actual number of buildings known to have the incredibly dangerous cladding now number around 208, with cladding being ripped from buildings in London, Portsmouth and Liverpool, yet fears are still high over the issue of the dangerous cladding being present on hospital walls, hotels and evens schools!

Each council throughout the country have been advised to name and shame local authorities who have been contacted about their cladding, yet have not replied as of yet, with institutions such as The University of Manchester student accommodation refusing comment on their known cladding in Owen’s Park, certainly posing a risk to the hundreds of students present.

So far, over 60 tower blocks have failed safety checks.

Since the towers were built in the 1960 s, before being renovated in 2017, they are a classic example of council skimping on design and safety, for an impressive and aesthetically pleasing result, yet one which also holds incredibly dangerous consequences.

Elizabeth Whittingham Elizabeth is a history graduate currently working in content and communications.