The cladding on 120 high-rise buildings in England has now failed fire safety tests, the UK prime minister said today as the fire safety crisis continued to mount.
Theresa May told Parliament it was still a 100% failure rate, as all of the samples submitted so far since the Grenfell Tower fire had failed.
With such a failure rate, the number of failures is certain to keep rising as tests proceed on an estimated 600 residential towers with cladding needing to be checked.
Hospitals, universities and schools are now coming under the safety spotlight as well.
Meanwhile, the manufacturer of the cladding material used at Grenfell Tower has said it is pulling the product from sale worldwide for high rise blocks.
New panel of experts
May urged local authorities and housing associations to "get on with the fire safety checks", reports the BBC.
At least 79 people are feared dead after London’s Grenfell Tower blaze on 14 June. May told MPs that she expects to name a judge to head a public inquiry into that disaster soon.
With the test failure rate absolute, the government separately yesterday said a new expert advisory panel had been formed to advise on emergency measures to make buildings safe.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the Panel would be made up of a range of building and fire safety experts, chaired by Sir Ken Knight, former London Fire Commissioner and former Government Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser.
Other core panel members are Dr Peter Bonfield, chief executive of the Building Research Establishment (BRE), which is carrying out the cladding fire tests, and Amanda Clack, President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Hospitals and universities
Elsewhere, nine NHS hospitals at risk from cladding have been identified for "intensive support", The Health Service Journal reports.
Emergency checks have now identified as many as 30 healthcare trusts with "category one" risks, meaning they have materials similar to those used on Grenfell Tower.
More than 17,000 care homes, hospices and private hospitals have been told to check their fire safety procedures, reports The Times.
Universities are also hit by the crisis. According to The Times, Newcastle University confirmed that a privately run student accommodation build, St James’ Point, which opened two years ago, had the same flammable cladding as Grenfell’s.
Bournemouth University and Edinburgh Napier University said they had found similar types of cladding at student halls.
UK schools minister Nick Gibb said that all school buildings taller than four storeys were being checked.
In related developments, the manufacturer of the cladding material used at Grenfell Tower has said it is pulling the product from sale worldwide for high rise blocks.
Arconic, formerly called Alcoa, said it would now discontinue global sales of Reynobond PE for use in high-rise applications. This cladding board is composed of flammable polyethylene sandwiched between two aluminium skins.
The cladding panels are a key focus of the police investigation into the rapid spread of fire across the exterior of Grenfell Tower.
The firm also produces a fire-rated aluminium composite material (ACM), Reynobond FR, which uses a fire retardant mineral central core.
It is not known if Arconic’s product was used to clad all buildings that failed the fire tests.
A spokesman said: "We believe this is the right decision because of the inconsistency of building codes across the world and issues that have arisen in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy regarding code compliance of cladding systems in the context of buildings’ overall designs.
"We will continue to fully support the authorities as they investigate this tragedy."
Image: Grenfell Tower still burning at 4.43am on 14 June 2017, London (Natalie Oxford/CC 4.0)