Grenfell cladding was not flagged as problem by fire engineer

Covering Grenfell Tower in cladding was deemed not to pose any 'particular issues or problems' by fire engineers who assessed the project in 2012 before the building's refurbishment, the inquiry has heard.

Exova principal fire engineer Clare Barker told the inquiry that she did not order a separate fire assessment of the cladding nor did she raise concerns about the building being overclad during her work on the project in 2012.

The inquiry into the fire which claimed the lives of 72 people restarted yesterday after pausing in March due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The decision to use rainscreen cladding on the building was taken in 2014 after Rydon became the project's main contractor.

Expert reports into the cause of the fire conclude that the rainscreen cladding used at Grenfell Tower was never tested, did not comply with fire regulations and was incorrectly installed.

The New Civil Engineer reports that none of the investigating experts were able to find proof that any fire safety tests were ever carried out on the Reynobond 55 PE rainscreen cladding prior to the blaze.

Exova has previously claimed that criticism of it is "unjustified" because it was not consulted about the flammable materials that eventually coated the building.

The firm's counsel, Michael Douglas QC, has told the inquiry the company had been 'left out' of planning discussions and had been effectively sidelined by 2014.

Meanwhile, documents relating to Exova's work on the project reveal that it ruled against a detailed fire inspection of the building's structure.

An early fee proposal drawn up by Exova showed its scope of works was 'based on the assumption a detailed appraisal [was] not required of the structural fire protection to the loadbearing elements of the structure or of the fire compartmentation within the building'.

Barker added: "It was assumed that, because the building was a concrete building, that it possessed the necessary fire resistance.

"As well as because of the time it was constructed, it was required to be a building with two hours' fire resistance to the structural elements."

The inquiry continues.

Article source: Architects' Journal

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Grenfell Fire safety