Building owners required to test spandrel, window and infill panels in high-rise housing
As part of the post-Grenfell crackdown, formal guidance has been released by the government requesting that building owners test spandrel, window and infill panels in high-rise housing.
Issues with spandrel panels emerged following the inquest into the Lakanal House building fire, which killed six people in 2009. The spandrel panels which were used in the replacement window assemblies during the refurbishment of the building were not rated Class 0 for surface spread of fire, and were believed to have allowed the fire to spread into the surrounding flats.
Until further information is released on the risks associated with these and other types of panels around windows, the government has advised that building owners remove spandrels where they are assessed to be unsafe. They also warn to check if any product substitution has taken place onsite.
Below are some of the key points from the official guidance released:
Where the panel product type can be confirmed, building owners should check the fire performances with the manufacturer by requesting test certification
Where there is no information about the panel or there is uncertainty, it will be necessary to investigate the panel composition by sample testing
Building owners should seek professional advice and take precautions to avoid releasing hazardous materials such as asbestos which may be present
The expert panel’s view is that for buildings over 18m, the clearest way to ensure they do not present a risk of fire spread is to confirm that materials are limited combustibility or better
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