Cladding from Grenfell Tower being tested by facility near St Albans

Smoke billows from Grenfell Tower in west London. Rick Findler/PA Wire

Smoke billows from Grenfell Tower in west London. Rick Findler/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Controversial cladding which may have been a factor in the spread of the blaze in the recent Grenfell tower disaster is being tested by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), based near St Albans.

Many people suspect the cladding helped the blaze spread, eventually killing at least 79 people.

In a statement, BRE’s chief executive Peter Bonfield said: “An immediate area of support we will be giving to Department of Communities and Local Government is to fire test samples of cladding from other high rise buildings for asset owners and operators who may have concerns.

“We have developed a test protocol for this work and are currently validating it.”

Their involvement was confirmed by the Prime Minister in an address to parliament.

Theresa May said: “The fire service and the Building Research Establishment are investigating as quickly as possible the exact cause of the fire so that any action that is required as a result of that work can be taken.”

BRE boasts on its website that it has “one of the largest fire research and testing laboratories in Europe.”

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Its facilities include a burn hall - used for determining heat release rates - and an external cladding test facility.

Speaking in parliament, St Albans MP Anne Main welcomed the involvement of the Bricket Wood facility.

She said: “I am pleased to hear that the government will work with BRE.

“I have already written to my local authority to ask it to evaluate the amendments that have been made to buildings of which they have a share or control.”

St Albans council have reassured residents of the city’s only tower block, Telford Court, that they do not use the same cladding as Grenfell.

The council’s head of housing Karen Dragovic said: “The fire service has re-examined our fire safety advice leaflet that is issued to residents and they did not see the need to make changes.”

The fire at the North Kensington tower block, took place on Wednesday, June 14. The exact cause of the blaze is not yet known.

The Prime Minister has confirmed there will be a full public inquiry.