Cladding makes headlines

The fire which spread rapidly through a six-storey student housing block is being investigated by Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Services.

The fire service were called to the fire at The Cube building on Bradshawgate in Bolton at around 8.30pm on 15th November 2019. All of the occupants managed to get out safely but it took 40 fire engines and specialist appliances and 200 fire fighters all night to control the blaze.

The building which had been converted from offices to student rooms in 2015 is managed by Valeo Urban Student Life and it houses 220 students

Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service (GMFRS) had inspected the building in 2017 following the fire at Grenfell Tower and it was established that the building did not have the sort of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding that had substantially contributed to the spread of fire at Grenfell.

There are two buildings in The Cube: Phase 1 is classified as a high rise building and Phase 2 (the building involved in the fire) is recorded as being less than 18 metres tall and is therefore not classified as a high rise building.

There are concerns, however, that the spread of the fire at The Cube may have been due, at least in part, to its cladding system.

An investigation will be carried out to establish not just the cause of the fire but also the effect which the cladding had on the fire spread.

The GMFRS said: “Following the fire our investigation will consider the materials used within the external wall construction and what if any role these materials played in the development and spread of fire. The investigation will be a complex one and will take some time, and therefore no further information regarding the external wall system will be released at this stage”.

Salford mayor Paul Dennett told the BBC: “We seem to have a bit of a cladding lottery. The government has made resources available for ACM but this is high-pressure laminate, so we will be asking government for more funds to really deal with what appears to be an industrial crisis”.

“We need to do a full invetigation of this building because it’s not just about the cladding, it’s about the actual structure of the cladding system and we need to investigate whether compartmentation has been breached and a whole host of different issues”.