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Jun 15 2017

Tower Block Inferno: Harrow buildings also use same cladding, says Daily Mail [updated]

Following the horrific events in west London only a day or two ago, where 17 people – and potentially many more – lost their lives as a result of an inferno sweeping through the Grenfell Tower just off the A40 in Notting Hill, the Daily Mail has revealed that some buildings in Harrow may be encased in the same, or similar, rainproof cladding:

“Six tower blocks in Harrow, northwest London, were given the rainproof cladding when it was refurbished in 2015 in a contract worth £3.5 million…” (source).

The cladding, designed to enhance the appearance of the buildings, as well, perhaps, to extend their lifespan, is set to be at the centre of an investigation into fire safety after witnesses claimed it ‘went up like a matchstick’, helping spread the fire from the tower’s fourth floor to the roof in just 15 minutes.

The council has been contacted, and asked to identify the buildings in the borough, and what action it is taking to ensure residents’ safety. We’ll update this article if we get a response.

Update: It seems that the Daily Mail got confused between Harrow and Harrow Road. However, the council has failed to respond to our request for details of which buildings in Harrow might use the same cladding, although it has posted on Twitter:

 

Observant readers will note that the council has only said that the cladding isn’t used on tower blocks in the borough – because there aren’t any. It hasn’t responded to the question if any buildings in the borough use the same cladding…

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25 comments

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  1. irritated

    I can hear the shredders working overtime at Harrow council offices as we speak! I am keen to hear what our Council is going to offer us as an explanation and a plan going forward. Given the tragedy and the loss of lives yesterday, I hope our Council is working overtime to ensure nothing like his happens in our Borough

  2. Sonoo Malkani

    Let’s make sure no stone is left unturned to identify any such buildings,assuming there are some here in our borough,which may fall into the same category,so that none of our people are exposed to the horrendous outcomes and tragedy we have just witnessed.Nobody should be allowed to put resources and funding ahead of lives which must be protected at all costs.

  3. Sonoo Malkani

    Deeply shocked and saddened to watch the Towering Inferno which has resulted in such a devastating tragedy in London.Our prayers and thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have lost their lives in this terrible Inferno.May they Rest in Eternal Peace.

  4. Concerned Harrovian

    If I lived in a tower block in Harrow, I would be frantic reading that my building was clad in the same material suspected of causing the fire in Grenfell Towers. Harrow Council should be holding emergency meetings and consulting with residents immediately if not sooner.

  5. Niall

    Surprisingly for a Daily Mail article, this is not accurate. The tower blocks mentioned are on Harrow Road, Little Venice, Westminster.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Excellent interjection Niall, thank you; Also explains why no-one has seen one here.

    2. irritated

      thank you Niall. Overreaction having read the Daily Mail article. Phew, We can sleep easy in our Borough then?

  6. Someonewhocares

    A very sad and needless loss of many lives: From the diagrams provided the aluminium composite cladding was not the main problem – it was combining it with the flammable insulation that produced the chimney effect that was apparent. How this possibility was this not spotted by the relevant safety “experts” etc is beyond me: Clearly *somebody, somewhere* has irresponsibly signed this off -and in an ‘official’ capacity- as ‘appropriate for high-rise blocks’ – and they should be imprisoned.

    Not noticed any buildings in Harrow using this particular “cosmetic improvement” technique but I expect the residents in such buildings will come forward soon if the Council don’t.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Furthermore, and shamefully, it has emerged that:-

      ” The supplier of the cladding on Grenfell Tower said it had been asked for “Reynobond PE” rather than “Reynobond FR” – Fire Resistant – which is * £2/square metre more expensive..*

      German construction companies have been banned from using plastic-filled cladding (such as Reynobond PE) on towers more than 22 metres high since the 1980s when regulations were brought in to improve fire safety at residential blocks….
      …..tighter fire-safety rules for tower blocks in Germany meant that a similar incident could not happen there. Concerns that the panels could exacerbate the spread of fires led authorities to allow them only on buildings that can be reached by the fire brigade using fully-extended ladders from the ground. Taller buildings require panels with a more fire-resistant core and separate staircases for people to use if evacuation becomes necessary.

      US building codes also restrict the use of metal-composite panels without flame-retardant cores on buildings above 15 metres. “

      1. Someonewhocares

        Further clarification about the issue relating to the cladding they used “being banned here’:

        ” According to the European distributor of ….. the Reynobond PE cladding used [it] was suitable only for buildings 10 metres or less tall, the higher-grade Reynobond FR to 30 metres tall, and above that height, as Grenfell Tower was, the *non-combustible A2 version* should be used.

        According to the US-based manufacturer, the polyethylene [PE] version of the material is banned in the United States for use in buildings exceeding 40 feet (12 m) in height, because of the risk of spreading fire and smoke.”

        Grenfell Tower is 67 metres high

        Key Source:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grenfell_Tower_fire

        1. Someonewhocares

          Unfortunately it appears that the UK fire safety ‘standards’ in fact “work differently”:

          ” Building regulations documents did NOT specifically say PE-core panels should NOT be used… but that did NOT mean builders were clearly permitted to use them. That is because British safety regulations across many industries are usually ‘principles-based’ rather than ‘rules-based’. This means the law often requires companies to act safely without giving a specific definition of what this would involve.. Firms are instead expected to be able to prove in court that they behaved in a way that their industry would consider safe, given current knowledge and technology ”

          *Or, in other words, UK companies have no real major ‘incentives’ to use the safest materials*?

          And, presumably the ‘principle’ involved here is “if it is cheaper (and we can get away with it) it will do”?

          Now, what was that the “Idiots in Chief ” have been saying recently about “if you bring in a New Regulation you have to tear up three old ones”?

  7. Sonoo Malkani

    Hope and pray you are right and that Harrow does not have any buildings with the same cladding.Shudder to think of 4000 other buildings which are deemed to have done so nation-wide.

  8. Terry

    I wouldn’t put money on it. But hopefully Sadiq Khan will reverse his decision to grant planning permission for the two 17 storey tower blocks that he rubber stamped as soon as he was elected (after standing on an anti tower block platform) He overruled the local council and residents in granting these monstrosities that nobody wanted. Now show some decently and cancel the them immediately!!

    1. Wealdstone Warrior

      I am in total agreement Terry, on this. This unfortunate event has highlighted public safety in these high rise towers.

      State of London debate 29th June 2017, 19:00 – 21:00 pm @ O2 Indigo. Tickets still available to ask Sadiq Khan questions. I would advise queuing early, as they issue more tickets than required and you are not guaranteed entry if seats fill up fast. https://www.london.gov.uk/events/2017-06-29/state-london-debate.

      1. ricky123

        Thanks for that WW, its gonna take more than 2 hours to debate the state of London more like 2 weeks. And as for debating the state of the Country 2 years if not longer.

  9. Concerned Harrovian

    I completely agree with the previous poster. The London Mayor should show some moral courage and cancel the twin towers of Wealdstone. Why di people have to live like battery hens in tower blocks that resemble chimneys?

  10. Concerned Harrovian

    Why can’t Sadiq Khan spend a month ,living, like a battery hen, at each tower block that residents are unhappy about? He could make a true connection with the people of London.it is no good talking a good talk and then going back home to your comfortable,fire safe pad.

  11. Concerned Harrovian

    A petition has been set up to ask the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to reconsider his permission for the building of two 17 storey high twin towers in Wealdstone. Harrow Council refused permission for the two tower blocks to be built. Sadiq Khan overruled Harrow Council and gave the developers permission

  12. Godhelpus

    Please sign this petition and forward on the anyone who objects to the two tower blocks scheduled for Wealdstone

    http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/wealdstone-tower-blocks

  13. Wealdstone Warrior

    Do you have a link to that petition CH? I wonder if Sadiq Khan still believes that tall buildings are the answer to London’s Housing shortage, from this article in the Evening Standard 28th March 2017 http://www.standard.co.uk/news/mayor/sadiq-khan-backs-tall-buildings-if-they-enhance-londons-skyline-a3500851.html

    Those planned twin towers of Wealdstone certainly won’t enhance the skyline. Time for his vanity projects to be put on hold.

    No matter how safe they consider the safety standards, people should not be living in high rise towers. These death traps need to be pulled down once and for all.

  14. Wealdstone Warrior

    Floors plans of the twin towers of Wealdstone and whole development are here. From what I can see, only one stairwell in the tall blocks, correct me if I am wrong? If anyone has time to read through the plans, see if there is anything on fire safety and sprinkler systems. http://www.harrow.gov.uk/planningsearch/lg/GFPlanningViewDocumentInDialog.page

    1. Someonewhocares

      That link is just coming up as the Document *Reader* WW…..

      I understand though that very few existing high-rise blocks actually have sprinkler systems installed and if so it is very unlikely they are specified in that document either (?).

  15. Wealdstone Warrior

    Try this link http://www.harrow.gov.uk/planningsearch/lg/GFPlanningSearch.page

    Application number is P/1619/16

    1. Someonewhocares

      A *lot* of documents there WW… Not to mention the numerous objections, as you know.

      Yes, there is *one* stairwell (in one corner of each building): There is not much detail however specific to Building Safety however and no references about sprinklers either. Time to escalate objections, clearly!

  16. Someonewhocares

    Awful, for many reasons, but primarily for lack of *proper answers* from Gove (as usual)
    Any *good* Government Minister would have *all* the details *before* such interviews…..
    So, *is the cladding banned here*?…. Truly Appalling.

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