Grenfell Tower: Why, in 1995, did the BBA approve combustible insulation for use on high rise residential buildings?

The British Board of Agrément is the leading British certifier of construction products and systems. It was originally named the Agrément Board, after a similar system pioneered in France by the CSTB (Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bātiment). The Director of the CSTB was invited (p. 62) to speak about that organisation at a special meeting of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1963, and Geoffrey Rippon, the Construction Minister accepted a recommendation to establish a similar system in Britain.  It was established in 1966 as a limited company controlled by the government, and was accordingly long referred to as a non-departmental public body. Its first two objects, as laid out in its Memorandum of Assocation, were to assess materials, products, systems and techniques for use in the building industry, and to grant certificates for them:

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: Why, in 1995, did the BBA approve combustible insulation for use on high rise residential buildings?

Grenfell Tower: Exova’s approval in 2012 of the use of combustible ACM for high rise cladding

In my last post I introduced a Certificate of Approval, issued in 2012 by Exova, trading as Warrington Certification, for a combustible FR grade ACM panel. According to the government’s post-Grenfell interpretation of Approved Document B2, 12.7, this certificate should not have been issued, since the panels fail to meet the limited combustibility requirement of that paragraph.

The certificate bore on every page the signature of Sir Ken Knight, who is Chair of the Grenfell Tower Expert Panel. This body claimed on 30 June 2017 that the Buildings Regulation guidance requires the ACM core to be of limited combustibility. The text of the Approved Document guidance on cladding has remained unchanged since 2007. It follows that the Expert Panel must be of the view that the certificate was issued in error.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: Exova’s approval in 2012 of the use of combustible ACM for high rise cladding

Grenfell Tower: time to put an end to the charade

Since 18 June 2017, just four days after the Grenfell Tower fire, the Government has been claiming that its Approved Document guidance does not permit the use of combustible ACM cladding on high rise buildings. On 27 June the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid appointed an ‘independent expert advisory panel’ to advise the government on what immediate safety measures needed to be taken to avert the risk of a further tragedy. Under its Terms of Reference, the regulations concerning fire safety and

the use of specific materials

were within the scope of the expert panel’s work:

The Chair of the panel, which appears still to be in operation, is Sir Ken Knight, former London Fire Commissioner and former Government Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: time to put an end to the charade

Grenfell Tower: how many high rise buildings are there in England with PE ACM cladding and phenolic insulation? (part 1)

On 5 September 2017, the Government published data for the number of high rise residential buildings in England (as of 31 August) with various types of ACM cladding, and with various types of insulation:

The number of buildings accounted for in this table is:

81 + 107 + 8 + 21 + 12 = 229.

The total number of buildings in England with ACM cladding (including those stripped post-Grenfell) is given in paragraph 5 (and also in paragraph 8):

Since 173 + 16 + 89 = 278, it is clear that 278 is the number of buildings as well as the number of samples.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: how many high rise buildings are there in England with PE ACM cladding and phenolic insulation? (part 1)

Grenfell Tower: what is a filler material?

In my last post, I argued that the core of an ACM panel cannot reasonably be described as a filler material. The Government, and also to its shame the Building Research Establishment, have been doing precisely that, and as a consequence the new usage has passed to some extent into common parlance. But what is at issue is what the term ‘filler material’ meant at the time that the Grenfell Tower refurbishment was being planned and executed. I do not believe the term was ever used in a publicly available form to refer to the ACM core prior to the terrible tragedy of 14 June 2017, and I ended my last post by challenging the Government to produce even a single instance of such usage.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: what is a filler material?

Grenfell Tower: is the core of ACM panels a ‘filler material’?

I have been examining three alternative rationales offered by the DCLG for their claim that the core of ACM panels is covered by paragraph 12.7 of Approved Document B2:

1. The ACM core is an insulation material or product;

2. The ACM core is a filler material;

3. All elements of the cladding system are covered, and so the ACM core is covered.

As I explained in part 1 of this series, the first of these rationales may be excluded immediately because ACM cladding has no insulation function. I showed in part 2 that common sense, logic and informed opinion rule out the third rationale, the application of 12.7 being clearly restricted to insulation and filler materials, with any further coverage limited to minor unspecified items.

In this post I demonstrate that that the core of cladding panels made of Aluminium Composite Material cannot properly be described as filler material. As I pointed out before, the DCLG itself finds this a doubtful proposition since in footnote 4 of its Explanatory Note on safety checks and testing of 30 June 2017:

with its ‘and/or’, the core is claimed to be either an insulation material/product, or an filler material, or both (but not neither!) So, according to the logic of this footnote at least, the ACM core could be just an insulation product and not a filler material at all.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: is the core of ACM panels a ‘filler material’?

Grenfell Tower: does the Approved Document guidance require all elements of a high rise cladding system to be of limited combustibility?

I continue with my examination of the three alternative rationales offered by the DCLG for their claim that the core of ACM panels is covered by paragraph 12.7 of Approved Document B2:

1. The ACM core is an insulation material or product;

2. The ACM core is a filler material;

3. All elements of the cladding system are covered, and so the ACM core is covered.

I am taking the third of these in second place, as it is less technical than the ‘filler material’ rationale, and can be refuted all the more easily. The first I dealt with summarily in my last post, demonstrating it I believe to be completely untenable.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: does the Approved Document guidance require all elements of a high rise cladding system to be of limited combustibility?

Grenfell Tower: the Government’s denial of responsibility

I argued in my last post that the Government bears the primary responsibility for the Grenfell Tower fire because:

i) the polyethylene-cored ACM panels were the primary cause of the inferno;

ii) they had been known by the Government to be dangerous since 1999, if not before;

iii) they were nevertheless permitted to be used on high rise residential buildings, under the official Approved Document guidance.

I also made reference to my father’s observation that in the aftermath of terrible accidents, all the parties concerned seek to avoid liability and culpability for what has happened. If he was right, then we might expect the Government to evade their responsibility for the Grenfell fire.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: the Government’s denial of responsibility

Grenfell Tower: the Government’s responsibility for the fire

In my first post on the Grenfell Tower disaster I recalled my father’s distress while serving as an expert witness in the court case that followed the 1994 Ramsgate Walkway collapse, in which six people died and others were seriously injured. He told me that the parties involved were in general interested neither in truth nor in preventing future failures and loss of life, but only in the avoidance of liability for themselves.

In this post I explain why I believe that the Government bears the main responsibility for the fire. That responsibility is shared between successive administrations from around the year 2000 onwards. If the pattern of behaviour that my father observed is a general one, then we might expect the present Government to try to deny culpability, and the Opposition to avoid drawing attention to the failures of past Labour Governments. In following posts, I will demonstrate that the Government is indeed currently engaged in just such an attempt to evade its responsibility for what is a national tragedy. In brief, it is rewriting history by claiming that the cladding panels were installed illegally on Grenfell Tower, when in reality they were permitted under the official guidance.

Continue reading Grenfell Tower: the Government’s responsibility for the fire

John 1.11 in Brian Simmons’ ‘Passion Translation’: does τὰ ἴδια mean His ‘own things’ or His ‘own people’?

 

I am presenting evidence that seems to suggest that the ‘Passion Translation’, so-called, is not in fact a translation from the original languages as it is represented to be. 1  Yesterday, I examined two of the translator’s footnotes to John 1.10 and today I continue with John 1.11 and its footnote.

Continue reading John 1.11 in Brian Simmons’ ‘Passion Translation’: does τὰ ἴδια mean His ‘own things’ or His ‘own people’?

Notes:

  1. For the record, I have previously presented it to author and publisher, but received no explanation for the errors and blunders in Greek and Hebrew contained in it. I also provided a statement from a named lecturer in Greek at a well-known ministerial training college, to the effect that he had seen my evidence, and had found that the ‘errors seriously erode my confidence in the integrity of the author’s claim to be producing the translation directly from Greek texts.’