As the second phase of the investigation into the 2017 fire which claimed 72 lives gets underway, BBC UK reporters wonder confusedly at the multiple denials of responsibility while the Guardian accuses the cladding manufacturer of knowing beforehand that the cladding was unsuitable.
In sharp contrast BBC Scotland seem to feel no need to inform their audience of the situation with regard to Scottish tower blocks. Previously though they have been keen to misinform and worry, by headlining:
Cladding type ‘used for Grenfell’ found in some Scottish schools
Cladding bill of £6m for two new Glasgow hospitals
While the first report does go on to explain that the cladding is not a risk in low-level buildings with multiple exits, the damage is done and both fail to explain that the material used is only part of the story and that Scottish building regulations have long made its use much safer.
There are two key differences between the panels used at Grenfell and those on the hospitals. First, the ‘chimney effect’ at Grenfell:
‘TV architect George Clarke said: “There’s a new cladding system put on the outsides (of the block of flats) that looks like a new skin. There’s an air gap, and insulation behind that; to me that looks like a fantastic chimney for the fire to rage around.”’
See this diagram:
The above air gap is not allowed on Scottish buildings. The Times explained in 2017, how the Scottish Government had clearly learned from a smaller though still tragic incident in 1999:
‘On June 11th, 1999, a disabled man was killed as a fire tore quickly through eight floors of the Scottish tower-block he was living in. Alexander Linton, 55, may not be widely remembered, but his death sparked a review of Scottish building regulations that may have saved lives. After exterior cladding on the council-owned tower block in Irvine was blamed for the rapid spread of the fire, Scottish rules were changed. Now the outside walls of buildings must be designed to “inhibit” the spread of fire, and these requirements are backed up by a tough inspection regime.’
See also, this clarification from reader STU:
‘Can’t comment on English regs, but up here we require cavity barriers at each floor level, around door/window openings, at corners, and spaced at, for example, 6 metre centres. All designed to prevent the chimney effect and fire spreading through cavities.
I’m mystified as to why no journalists have picked up on this in reference to the SNP hospital…’
Second, the manufacturer of the Kingspan Kooltherm K15 Rainscreen board used in the hospitals said: ‘they were combined with different materials in the London block’s cladding than at the 14-storey Glasgow hospital’.
So, the panels are being replaced only ‘to give extra reassurance.’
I know it’s a bit technical, BBC Scotland, but try to understand. Your audience has a right to know the full truth.