Following the Grenfell Tower fire June 14, the United Kingdom reports nearly 100 high-rise towers around the country could face a similar fate due to substandard exterior cladding.
Cladding added during a recent refurbishment to the tower is suspected of worsening the Grenfell blaze, and Prime Minister Theresa May said a “major national investigation” is being conducted into the use of the material.
NBC News reports government officials have pressed landlords to submit samples for testing. However, the minister in charge of local government, Sajid Javid, says he is concerned with the pace of submissions. The facility analyzing the samples can test up to 100 a day.
In addition, inspectors in London’s Camden borough found that hundreds of fire doors were missing in five high-rise social housing blocks. The local government estimated it needed to order 1,000 new fire doors, according to Javid.
“Clearly something has gone wrong there, drastically wrong,” NBC reports Javid told lawmakers in Parliament Monday. “But it’s an example of, again where these issues need to be looked at very carefully why this is happening in this day and age in our country.”
Illegal in the European Union and the U.S., but not in the U.K., cladding similar to that used in Grenfell Tower may have also been used on buildings in other countries around the world, according to experts.
“Regulations aside, (fire safety and materials used in tall buildings) is an international issue,” Matthew Needham-Laing, a leading litigation lawyer and construction expert tells NBC. “We know of fires in China, fires in the Middle East, fires in this country and also in France.”
The company responsible for Grenfell’s $11-million refurbishment, Rydon Construction Company, tells NBC the “rainscreen” cladding “met all required building regulations.”
Lawyer and construction expert Needham Laing explained for NBC that a flammable exterior cladding doesn’t necessarily correlate into an unsafe building.
“You may use an element of the building that you know can be combustible in certain circumstances but you then — put in these other factors that mitigate it,” he said.
“It might be a sprinkler system, it might be a drencher system on the external face, it might be additional staircases, and it might be a means of regulating the smoke.
“You can’t look at one individual bit and say ‘fix that and ignore the rest of it.’ It’s the whole thing,” Laing tells NBC.
The death toll from the Grenfell fire has reached 79, but the Independent reports it could rise into the hundreds.
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