In 2017, a high-rise building in London caught fire to leave over 70 people dead and many more injured. Grenfell Tower was the unfortunate site of this tragedy, which many consider as one of the worst tragedies in the history of the UK.
On investigation, the Police found that the building’s exterior cladding has played in an instrumental role in igniting the deadly fire. Ever since the incident took place, people around the word, including in Canada, have started to question the safety of high-rise buildings.
This has alerted building owners and companies constructing these buildings to use materials, both inside and outside the building, that are fire retardant.The purpose of this isn’t just protecting their buildings and the people inside them; it is also to avoid a potential lawsuit and punishable criminal offence.
In Canada, the cladding material used in buildings is a serious issue and the government has extremely strict rules regarding it, which help to minimize the risk of fire in high-rise buildings in Canada.
The ACM Cladding Measures That Building Owners Should be Taking
Soon after the incident at Grenfell Tower that killed over 70 people, an advisory panel comprising of independent experts urged the UK government to conduct an identification screening on residential buildings, especially the high-rise ones.
Performed at the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the tests looked to identify what type of aluminum composite material (ACM) was used in these buildings. After these tests were successfully conducted, the panel of independent experts further advised the government to conduct large-scale testing of the cladding used in buildings; the purpose behind this was to get a better understanding of how different types of ACM panels react to varying insulation in a fire.
The results provided the UK government with great insights that could potentially help avoid fire-related incidents such as Grenfell Tower in the future. While the Canadian government, like the UK government, can advise what cladding materials should be used in buildings, it is ultimately the responsibility of building owners to ensure that the materials used in their buildings meet the required safety standards.
One of the measures that building owners can take to ensure the above is getting ACM screening tests conducted on their build
ings. This will allow the owners to know if the cladding materials used in their building comply with the safety standards for them.
In Canada, the regulations for cladding in building clearly state that cladding is allowed in buildings that are at least three storeys high; they also state that the cladding material, aluminum composite material (ACM) or another, used in a building must have a minimum fire rating of one to two hours. This is sufficient time for a building’s occupants to escape before something untoward happens.
From the above, it is evident that using certified ACM cladding material in your building in compliance with the regulations for cladding will save you from a lot of trouble. So, make sure to take all the measures mentioned-above in the design process for ACM cladding.