The UK’s largest building control organisation was warned 18 months before theGrenfell Tower firethat “any number of buildings” could go up in flames because they were fitted with combustible panels that did not meet building regulations.
But the body did not check whether it had given approval to any such blocks.
The warning, from a facade manufacturer, came at a construction safety conference in January 2016 addressed by Steve Evans, head of technical operations at the National House Building Council (NHBC). It prompted the event chair to ask if “we are sitting on … a timebomb”.
In a question-and-answer session at the industry conference Nick Jenkins, a senior technician from Booth Muirie, which manufactures cladding systems, said: “You could have an exact repeat of the Dubai fire in any number of buildings that we supply product to in London.”
Jenkins said he felt “real concern” because over the last 15 years his firm had only supplied limited combustibility cladding on two projects in the UK. The rest, he implied, was combustible.
Another similar warning of “grave concern” was sent by the same manufacturer to the government’s senior civil servant with responsibility for fire regulations, Brian Martin. He replied that such panels should be tested but “if the designer and building control body choose to do something else then that’s up to them”.