Combustible materials will be banned from the exterior of new buildings in the UK over 18m tall, including apartments, schools, care homes, student halls and hospitals.
Firefighters criticised the decision, saying all buildings should be subject to the ban, regardless of height.
UK Housing Secretary James Brokenshire announced the ban at his party’s conference in Birmingham yesterday, 15 months after the Grenfell Tower fire, where flammable cladding was responsible for the rapid spread of a conflagration that claimed 72 lives in west London.
The policy applies to buildings currently under construction but not to buildings already clad with flammable material – some 470 apartment blocks, according to government figures.
In future the only materials allowed are those classed as A1 or A2 under the European Reaction to Fire classification system, which includes materials such as metal, stone, glass and plasterboard.
General secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Matt Wrack, said: "This is not the outright ban on combustible cladding that firefighters have been calling for. The Westminster government continues to allow cladding of limited combustibility for any building work in the future. The FBU called for a universal ban on these flammable materials."
He called for tougher regulations that ban flammable cladding on all buildings, regardless of height or function. He said only A1 materials should be allowed, and the new rules should also apply to existing buildings. Â
Image: The Grenfell fire broke out in the small hours of 14 June 2017 in North Kensington, London. It is presently the subject of a public investigation (Natalie Oxford/Creative Commons)
Great announcement for something that would have rapidly become an industry voluntary standard. A cynic might have said that it was sound bite politics especially in the middle of the Grenfell enquiry. Let us not forget that 18 metres equates to 6 storeys. The fire service is right to complain, there is possibly an argument for over 2 storey. I noticed no legislation yet for refurbishment or respropective action regarding fire and other dangerous conditions. Even converting office buildings doesn’t have to consider changes to existing staircase barriers. Hopefully, the revision to building regulations will look at the whole package and not just part B.
FBU should be the decision makers we will all sleep easier when that is the case
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