Cardiff checks on cladding expose fire safety issues

Extra fire safety checks carried out by Cardiff Council on its high-rise blocks of flats have revealed that cladding systems on six buildings do not meet current standards.

Worryingly for the government, all six high-rise buildings were approved in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire. Further testing to clarify whether the cladding would meet today’s more stringent fire safety standards found that the cladding systems consist of veneered, fibrous-hardwood, rainscreen panels that fail today’s combustibility standards.

Cardiff Council had already upgraded fire doors to above set standards in all of its high-rise blocks, replacing the 30-minute integrity doors with higher specification 60-minute fire doors, the last of which will be completed by May. All of the council’s high-rise blocks are also set to be fitted with sprinklers.

Lynda Thorne, cabinet member for Housing and Communities, said: “Following last summer’s tragedy at Grenfell and with tenant safety as our top priority, the council decided to go beyond the initial review of our cladding systems that checked for ACM to make sure there were no other issues with the materials cladding our high rises.

“Unfortunately, the results of these extra tests have established that the cladding on six blocks fail current standards. Naturally, everyone living in these blocks will be very concerned by this news but I want to reassure them that we are working closely with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to ensure we follow the latest fire-safety guidance and to decide the best way forward.

“I believe we are the first council in the UK to carry out these additional checks on cladding, because of this and because of the results, we have informed Welsh government and we will also be informing the UK government’s Department for Communities and Local Government.”

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