Izzi Vaughan | Editor in Chief
3 years after the Grenfell fire on the 14 June 2017, 307 high rise buildings in the UK are still clad in Aluminium Composite Material.
The deadline to remove all ACM cladding from buildings in the country was set last year at June 2020 by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, giving the government three years to remove the highly flammable cladding which was used on Grenfell Tower.
The Conservative Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council refurbished the building in 2016, which included new cladding, replacement windows, a communal heating system and a remodelling of the bottom floors. The refurbishment did not include the instillation of sprinklers and additional fire escapes, as requested by residents.
The decision to use ACM cladding, as opposed to the fire resistant zinc alternative, saved the council £293,369 on a project worth £8.6 million from a council with a budget surplus of £274 million the year of the fire. Had the fire resistant cladding been used, the fire would have been contained in flat 16 and would not have spread as rapidly as it did. In approximately 12 minutes, the fire spread up 19 stories of the building. This made the “stay-put” strategy used by fire fighters, which is standard practice, ineffective against such an uncontrollable fire.
At least 72 people are known to have been killed in the fire. However, 350 people were known to have lived in the tower, and 14 were not in the building when it caught fire. 223 people were known to have escaped, leaving 41 people unaccounted for, which gives a more accurate sum of 113 deceased. At the beginning of 2020, 8 families were still living in temporary accomodation, 2 and a half years after the fire. And three years on, there are still buildings clad in the flammable ACM.