Grenfell Inquiry: Industry exploited lax building regulations to sell flammable cladding

Accountability FBU

News Release

23 September 2020

Evidence shows failure of consecutive governments to properly regulate, FBU says

Emails seen by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry reveal “just how lax” ministers allowed UK building regulations to become, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says.

The correspondence revealed that housing and construction industry salespeople knew that, without government intervention, high-rise buildings would continue to be constructed with flammable cladding.

The Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding on Grenfell had a flammble polyethylene (PE) core, but was also available with a less combustible fire rated (FR) core.

In an email seen by the inquiry, a salesperson said that Alcoa (now Arconic) “won’t change their core [to fire rated] until they are forced to due to changes in the fire regulations”.Responding, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“Ministers have avoided scrutiny so far in this inquiry, but today’s evidence shows just how lax UK building regulations had become before Grenfell.

“People in the industry knew that, until government stepped in, homes would continue to be wrapped in flammable cladding and constructed with other dangerous materials, but ministers showed no interest in tackling the problem.

“There’s no depth that businesses will not sink to within the law to turn a profit. Consecutive governments oversaw decades of deregulation, privatisation, and austerity, utterly failing to ensure the housing and construction sectors were acting safely.

Joe Karp-Sawey, FBU communications officer

  • NOTE 1: Screenshot of email from Geof Blades of CEP Architectural Facades

  • The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is the trade union representing the overwhelming majority of firefighters in the UK and serves as the professional voice of firefighters and the fire and rescue service. The union is a core participant in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry