UK: All building cladding samples tested failed fire safety

Posted June 26, 2017

Some refused to leave their high-rise apartments.

Camden Council in north London decided that hundreds of residents at the Chalcots Estate had to leave Friday night amid safety fears linked to the deadly inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower on June 14.

Some 3,000 Chalcots residents face weeks in temporary accommodation after Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said the authority took the "extraordinary action" to clear 600 flats because "we are really clear that those four blocks are not safe".

"In our response to the government's housing white paper in May this year we drew attention to the fact that external cladding made from combustible material can cause fire to spread", ABI spokesman Malcolm Tarling told AFP by email.

Officials said that every sample of aluminium cladding so far sent for testing amid concerns that it was similar to that used on the west London tower block where at least 79 people died had been deemed unsafe after failing a combustibility test.

"I know it's hard, but Grenfell changes everything", Camden Council chief Georgia Gould told reporters outside a complex of buildings known as Chalcots Estate on Friday. It said about 650 apartments were evacuated, though initial reports had said it affected as many as 800 apartments.

"Yes, I'm still waiting and waiting to see if they're going to find us anywhere decent to go before they kick us out of here", he said. And despite local council authorities urging residents to vacate apartments in buildings that failed the fire safety tests, many families are refusing to leave.

Mandy Ryan, who shares her 22nd-floor flat in Dorney with her disabled son, said: "I was bullied this morning trying to leave the building".

Hotpoint said Friday that "words can not express our sorrow at this awful tragedy" and added it was working with authorities to examine the appliance. Officials first announced the evacuation of one building, then expanded it to five before reducing it to four. Renovations are expected to take several weeks.

"It was only last night, about 10pm last night, I found out".

"I think it's to be commended that the Thirteen Group are taking this seriously and all of the precautions they are putting in place". "There's no organization and it's chaos", she said.

Many residents complained on Saturday that they only found out about the evacuation through television and were not properly informed.

Earlier it was reported that 27 buildings had failed the safety test.

As tests continue to avoid a repeat of the horror which broke out at the Grenfell Tower on June 14, the Association of British Insurers said it had warned of the risks posed by cladding in feedback to a government policy document.

The government has ordered an immediate examination of the refrigerator model that started the blaze, the Hotpoint model FF175BP refrigerator-freezer.

Hotpoint said it was working with authorities to examine the appliance, adding "words can not express our sorrow at this awful tragedy".

He stressed "cladding itself is not dangerous" and that a failure in testing does not necessarily mean a building will be evacuated.

Police says 79 people are either dead or missing and presumed dead in the blaze, although that number may change.