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Leaked notes warn of ‘doctored’ fire safety tests on materials for high rises

Leaked meeting notes from a giant insulation company claim that some manufacturers have “doctored” official reports of fire safety tests on their products.

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Leaked notes warn of “doctored” safety tests on materials for high rises #ukhousing

A staff member's notes from a meeting of insulation giant Kingspan warns other manufacturers have 'doctored' safety test reports #ukhousing

Inside Housing has seen notes taken by a staff member at an internal meeting of Kingspan from September. The notes say that some manufacturers’ reports of tests carried out by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to clear materials as safe for use on high rises have been altered.

“You have to declare that you are happy for them [test results] to be made public… People have been doctoring the reports,” the notes read.


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In a statement, Kingspan said the notes refer to “idle speculation” at the meeting, while the BRE said it hadn’t come across any “doctoring”.

The allegation of doctoring does not refer to Kingspan itself.

Building regulations demand that if combustible materials are used as insulation on high rises, they must first pass a large-scale test that is detailed in British Standard (BS) 8414.

Many of these tests are carried out by the BRE, but it does not release reports of the tests as it deems them “client confidential”.

Therefore it is left to manufacturers to describe the results of tests on their own products.

After the Grenfell Tower disaster, the government asked the BRE to publish a list of materials which had successfully passed BS 8414 tests.

The BRE asked manufacturers for permission to release this information and compiled a table of 54 tests as a result. It has tested more than 100 products.

In compiling this table, the BRE relied on its own reports of the tests, rather than asking manufacturers to provide it. Kingspan said in its statement that this was “to ensure the integrity” of the information published.

The meeting notes suggest this was due to concern about “doctoring”, something the BRE denies.

The meeting was addressed by Adrian Pargeter, head of technical and marketing at Kingspan UK, and the notes were taken by a member of staff who Kingspan have confirmed attended. The notes were not official.

The Kingspan spokesperson said: “There was some loose and poorly expressed speculation as to whether the BRE had found inconsistencies between some documents (not Kingspan’s), but this was idle speculation, nothing more.”

The spokesperson was unable to confirm the words Mr Pargeter had used to give this impression.

A spokesperson for the BRE added: “If people are ‘doctoring’ reports, this is fraud and should be reported to Trading Standards. If we are also made aware, we will take steps to warn of their existence.”

A government spokesperson said anyone with evidence of doctoring should report it to the police.

The spokesperson added: “Nothing is more important than keeping people safe.

“Following the Grenfell Tower fire, we commissioned a series of fire safety tests that followed the British Standards and were independently witnessed by third parties.”

Never Again campaign

Never Again campaign

Inside Housing has launched a campaign to improve fire safety following the Grenfell Tower fire

Never Again: campaign asks

Inside Housing is calling for immediate action to implement the learning from the Lakanal House fire, and a commitment to act – without delay – on learning from the Grenfell Tower tragedy as it becomes available.

LANDLORDS

  • Take immediate action to check cladding and external panels on tower blocks and take prompt, appropriate action to remedy any problems
  • Update risk assessments using an appropriate, qualified expert.
  • Commit to renewing assessments annually and after major repair or cladding work is carried out
  • Review and update evacuation policies and ‘stay put’ advice in light of risk assessments, and communicate clearly to residents

GOVERNMENT

  • Provide urgent advice on the installation and upkeep of external insulation
  • Update and clarify building regulations immediately – with a commitment to update if additional learning emerges at a later date from the Grenfell inquiry
  • Fund the retrofitting of sprinkler systems in all tower blocks across the UK (except where there are specific structural reasons not to do so)

We will submit evidence from our research to the Grenfell public inquiry.

The inquiry should look at why opportunities to implement learning that could have prevented the fire were missed, in order to ensure similar opportunities are acted on in the future.

 

READ MORE ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN HERE

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