Nobody at the construction company that installed the combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on Grenfell Tower was designated with the responsibility of assessing the fire safety of products used on its projects, the Grenfell Inquiry heard today.
Kate Grange, counsel to the inquiry, asked whose job it was at Harley Facades at the time of the Grenfell project to “think about fire”, to which Daniel Anketell-Jones, the company’s design manager during the work, replied that there was nobody across the company assigned that role.
Mr Anketell-Jones said: “Each individual person would look after the responsibility on the projects. [For Grenfell] the responsibility would fall on Kevin [Lamb, lead designer] and Ben [Bailey, project manager].”
The revelations came after Mr Anketell-Jones revealed earlier in the week that it would be the role of the company’s technical manager to assess the technical compliance of materials used.
Harley had no one in this role for a three-year period between the end of 2012 and the end of 2015, a period that coincided with the Grenfell refurbishment.
When asked who was responsible for ensuring the designs of cladding systems complied with the building regulations during the period the company was without a technical manager, Mr Anketell-Jones said for the projects he worked on he would pass back to clients and the design team.
Mr Anketell-Jones took on the role of technical manager at Harley in late 2015.
Today was Mr Anketell-Jones’ third day of questioning at the inquiry, with discussion around fire-stopping and the installation of cavity barriers around the windows during the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.
The inquiry has already seen chains of emails between the contractors, architects and building control inspectors which show that they resisted the idea of including fire breaks between floors at Grenfell Tower and did not design cavity barriers above windows – as required by building regulations.
During phase one of the inquiry, experts concluded that the windows at Grenfell “had very little capacity to resist a fire”, allowing the blaze to break out of the flat it started in and ignite the combustible cladding on the walls.
During questioning, Mr Anketell-Jones was presented with an email he sent to project stakeholders, in which he said that fire-stopping would not be needed as fire would quickly destroy the ACM cladding.
He wrote: “There is no point of ‘fire stopping’; as we all know; the ACM will be gone rather quickly in a fire.”
Asked by Ms Grange to elaborate on his comments, he said that from his structural design training, he knew that aluminium was unable to resist fire for a long periods and would melt and fall off the building.
When asked how this comment about the performance of the cladding was consistent with his previous evidence that he was concerned with and educated on structural issues only, Mr Anketell-Jones said: “It’s what I picked up from the email further down, and picking up bits and pieces over the years. It was not an area I was trained on and I would always send off the drawings to consultants to be checked on other projects.”
Ms Grange concluded her questions by asking Mr Anketell-Jones if he would do anything differently if he had the chance to do the project again.
“Looking back on it, because my role was very limited and I was only asked to dip in and out and look at pieces of info, and do structural design, I think at that point I didn’t have the education or knowledge to pick up on signs or see things were missing,” he said.
“So, I don’t think I could have anything differently without the education I have now.”
Week one: a vivid picture of a broken industry
After a week of damning revelations at the opening of phase two of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Peter Apps recaps the key points
Week two: what is the significance of the immunity application?
Sir Martin Moore-Bick has written to the attorney general requesting protection for those set to give evidence at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Peter Apps explains what the move means
Week three: architects of misfortune
This week saw the lead architects for the Grenfell Tower refurbishment give evidence to the inquiry. Peter Apps runs through the key points
Week four: ‘I didn’t have any perception that it was the monster it’s become’
The architects continued to give evidence this week, outlining a lack of understanding of the fire risk posed by the cladding materials and its design. Nathaniel Barker reports
Week five: ‘No adverse effect in relation to external fire spread’
As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry returns from its long absence, Peter Apps recaps the key points from a week of important evidence from the fire consultants to the refurbishment
Week six: ‘I can’t recall any instance where I discussed the materials with building control’
Nathaniel Barker summarises what we learned from fire engineers Exova, architects Studio E and the early evidence from contractor Rydon
Week seven: ‘I do not think I have ever worked with a contractor operating with this level of nonchalance’
Two key witnesses from contractor Rydon gave evidence this week. Peter Apps recaps some of the key points from a revealing week of evidence
Week eight: 'It haunts me that it wasn't challenged'
Four witnesses from contractor Rydon gave evidence this week. Lucie Heath recaps what we learned on the last week of evidence before the inquiry breaks for five weeks
Week nine: ‘All I can say is you will be taken out for a very nice meal very soon’
This week the inquiry heard evidence from witnesses at Harley Facades, the sub-contractor responsible for Grenfell Tower’s cladding. Peter Apps recaps the key points
Week 10: ‘As we all know, ACM will be gone rather quickly in a fire!’
As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry entered its 10th week, Jack Simpson recaps the key points from a week of important evidence from the refurbishment’s cladding contractor
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