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new cardiff > ENG > Resident > Housing > Living in a council property > Council’s additional checks on cladding on high-rise flats exposes fire-safety issues

Cladding on high-rise flats

Additional checks carried out in 2018 on our high-rise blocks of flats have revealed that cladding systems on six buildings do not meet current fire-safety standards, despite the fact all six were given a clean-bill of health in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire.

 

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London in 2017, the Council reviewed fire safety in all of its high-rise blocks across the city, including inspections by external consultants on cladding to see if Aluminium Composite Materials (ACM) were present in any of the blocks. The results came back negative.


 

View our press release about cladding on high-rise flats (366kb PDF)External link opens in a new window .

High-Rise Cladding – Your Questions Answered

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower last year, the Council has been reviewing fire safety in all of its high-rise blocks. Initial tests carried out showed no presence of Aluminium Composite Materials (ACM) - the material used in Grenfell.


However, to ensure there were no other issues with the cladding and in line with independent recommendations, the Council decided to carry out further tests on the cladding on our tower blocks.


 

The results of these additional checks show that while the cladding installed in the 1990s on six blocks met regulations at the time, they do not meet today’s, more stringent fire-safety standards.

The cladding is not ACM (Aluminium Composite Material and so is completely different from that installed at Grenfell.


 

The cladding consists of veneered, fibrous hardwood rainscreen panels with rockwool insulation. While the insulation is non-combustible,   the panels have been treated with chemicals that mean they do not meet today’s combustibility standards.


 

The average value of the cladding tested from our blocks is 17.5 MJ/kg. This means the amount of heat released during the combustion of a specified amount of the material. The value for Grenfell was 45MJ/kg while the pass value is 3MJ/kg.


 

Our checks have also revealed that there are no firebreaks built into the cladding system on the exterior of the buildings in question. While this was not required by regulations at the time of installation, today’s standards are much higher and we are also taking this into account.

The blocks affected are Lydstep Flats, LLandaff North (3 blocks), Loudoun and Nelson House, Butetown, and Channel View, Grangetown.

All of the Council’s clad high-rise blocks were surveyed in June 2017 in the immediate aftermath of Grenfell. Welsh Government advice at the time was that only ACM cladding needed to be tested.  None of our blocks were found to have ACM present.


 

There was no capacity to test any other cladding at the nominated testing centre at that time but as Cardiff Council wanted to be sure there were no other issues with the cladding, further checks were commissioned privately, this required specification of the work and the procurement of a contractor.


 

We received all the test results in March 2018

As soon as we became aware of the test results and following advice from the fire service additional safety measures were put in place including round-the-clock fire-warden patrols and increased CCTV monitoring.


 

It is likely that the cladding on all blocks affected will need to be removed and we are currently looking at options available to complete this work quickly and effectively.

Fire safety is of the utmost importance to the Council and our housing service has a dedicated team fully trained on fire-safety issues. Fire-risk assessments are carried out on all high-rise blocks annually and reviewed by qualified staff every six months.  



We have been working closely with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to ensure we follow the latest fire-safety guidance.


 

All flats have smoke detectors fitted and these are checked annually as are gas appliances.


 

The Council is in the process of upgrading fire doors in all of our high-rise blocks and the installation of 60-minute fire doors will be complete in May. All high-rise blocks are also set to be fitted with sprinklers.

No. Following the events at Grenfell, the Council decided to replace all fire doors in our high rise flats with a higher specification door to increase integrity to 60 minutes from the previous 30 minutes. The installation of the new fire doors has commenced and will be complete in May.

Each of our high-rise blocks is built to be fire proof and able to contain a fire within the individual flat where it starts. Extensive checks take place each time our high-rise flats become vacant to ensure the compartmentation between flats is suitable and sufficient to stop fire spreading between flats. Fires that have broken out in our tower blocks previously have not spread to other flats.

The current guidance for residents in the event of a fire is to ‘stay put’ as the safest place for residents during a fire is normally their own home, unless it’s their property which is directly affected by the fire.  We have, however, commissioned an independent fire-risk assessment and once we have the results of that assessment we will inform residents if there is any change to the current policy. We expect to have the results shortly.

We are holding information sessions for residents on Tuesday, March 20 at each high-rise affected. We’ll be at Loudoun House at 9am, Channel View at 12 noon and Llandaff North & Gabalfa Hub at 3pm to answer questions.



Cymraeg