Tests on exterior materials in high-rise buildings which the British government has conducted shows that some have combustible external panels like the ones believed to have contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 79 people last week.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday that 600 other buildings in England are estimated to have similar cladding. However, the Department for Communities and Local Government later clarified that the figure refers only to the buildings with all types of cladding and that not all of them necessarily are made from the same aluminum composite material as Grenfell Tower.
“The situation is that 600 buildings have cladding – it is not similar, it is all types of cladding. Of these 600, we want landlords to check if they have ACM cladding. Of those 600, some of those would have ACM; we want to test them to see if they have ACM,” a DCLG spokesman said.
The tests come after residents claimed that cladding, added during a refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, may have contributed in the June 14 disaster when flames engulfed through the 24-storey residential building, trapping people inside. Grenfell Tower fire was Britain’s worst since World War II.
Still, failing the test does not necessarily mean the building is unsafe. A No 10 spokeswoman explained: “It will be subject to further testing that is undertaken by the fire services to do that and if that is the case then we will be obviously working with local authorities and the landlords to make sure that nobody stays in a building that’s proved to be unsafe.”
It is currently not known how many of these have been carried out so far but experts can carry out only 100 examinations a day, per Downing Street. Landlords of those buildings which tested positive will be informed by authorities while residents “will be rehoused if they need to be,” provided by the land owners with alternative accommodation.
“It’s landlords’ responsibility to make sure that buildings people live in are safe. If they are proved to be unsafe they will be rehoused and re-accommodated. If people do not feel safe then local authorities will be working with fire services to find a solution there.”
DCLG has already advised all local authority and housing association chief executives on steps to take if tower blocks in their area are found to be clad in combustible panels. But they will not identify the buildings until landlords have had the opportunity to inform tenants.
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