Combustible cladding ban should be widened

The recent fire which happened at a Bolton housing accommodation for students has prompted the Fire Protection Association to ask the government to widen its ban on combustible cladding.

The recent ban on combustible building materials by the goverment, introduced in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, is only for buildings that stand higher than 18 metres – or six storeys high.

The Cube student block in Bolton which caught fire was six storeys and so outside the scope of the new rules. The Fire Protection Association (FPA) said that it “provides a stark reminder that the problem facing UK fire safety is the result of many issues and not just Grenfell style ACM cladding”.

“Clearly we should not limt regulations to the mere hight of a building”, the FPA says.

While investigations into the fire continue, the FPA says that it is clear that the high pressure laminate (HPL) and timber cladding components played a large part in the fire’s progress, possibly in association with the insulation and cavity membranes present.

Since Grenfell, all the focus has been on aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding. “HPL has been talked about to some degree, but no doubt thorough investigations and consideration have been hampered by it not being the focus of a major incident – until now”, the FPA said.

Jonathon O’Neill, managing director of the Fire Protection Association made a comment that the fires at the Bolton student block, Worcester Park in London and the Beechmere care village in Cheshire, prove we cannot be housing people in buildings made from combustible materials. This issue needs to be addressed urgently, it simply cannot wait. We urge this issue to be a priority for the new government.