High-Rise Towers Fail Fire Safety Tests in the UK

Frederick Owens
June 27, 2017

All high-rise tower blocks tested across the United Kingdom so far for flammable material similar to the cladding related to the blaze at a 24-storey residential tower in London last week have failed their compulsory fire safety tests.

The Taplow, Bray and Dorney residential tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate are pictured in north London on June 23, 2017. The apartments were evacua.

"The decision by Camden Council to evacuate four of the five towers on the Chalcots Estate was because the failed testing of the external cladding was compounded by multiple other fire safety failures which the fire inspection team found within the buildings", he said. The apartments were evacuated overnight after fire inspectors concluded that the buildings were unsafe because of problematic fire doors, gas pipe insulation, and external cladding similar to that blamed for the rapid spread of a fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower on June 14.

Earlier over the weekend, cladding that had been used on 34 tower blocks in 17 council areas in England was reported to have failed government fire safety tests.

Holyrood is to carry out its own investigation into the safety of high-rise blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London MSPs on the Local Government and Communities Committee are to expand an on-going inquiry into housing and building regulations in Scotland to include high-rise accommodation.

The Grenfell Tower fire, which killed at least 79 people and could be one of Europe's biggest insurance claims, was not the first of its kind.

Gould refused to be drawn on whether there was a deadline to evacuate residents, saying: "The last thing I want to do is force people out of their homes".

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Cladding was fitted to the north London estate as part of a £66 million refurbishment overseen by Rydon, the same company involved in the refit of Grenfell Tower, according to the Rydon website.

"People have had to decide, you know, in a few minutes you know, all their possessions, what to do with them, what they might need, I don't know, for an indefinite period of time", said a woman.

The council said residents would be out of their homes for three to four weeks while it completes fire-safety upgrades.

However, the government's latest figures suggest that only the results of 60 tests had been received since its announcement that it would open its facilities up to councils on 19 June. While visiting worshipers at a north Kensington mosque to offer his support to victims of the Grenfell fire, London's Mayor Sadiq Khan defended Camden's decision to evacuate residents.

"As a firefighter you wouldn't have thought to look outside".

Work has already begun to remove cladding from nine tower blocks in Pendleton over safety concerns. British media have followed the story of the hundreds of residents, who found themselves homeless, lodged in temporary accommodation and, in some cases, later asked to leave. "That is absolutely clear", he told Sky News.

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