Kingspan defends its role in reviewing materials used in Grenfell Tower

Cavan insulation maker’s product was used in London tower block

Furious survivors of the London tower block fire that killed at least 80 people booed the new leader of the local authority during chaotic scenes at the council's first meeting since the blaze. Video: Reuters

 

Irish insulation manufacturer Kingspan is at the centre of a dispute over the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy after it emerged that one of it products was used in the building’s cladding.

Kingspan’s Kooltherm K15 was used in the London tower block, but it amounted to less than 5 per cent of the area covered by the cladding blamed for spreading the fire. The devastating fire at the 24-storey block on June 14th left at least 80 people dead.

Booth Muirie, a British company owned by Kingspan, is aiding experts testing materials used in the building, leading to accusations on Channel 4 News in the UK on Thursday that the investigation was not independent.

The programme highlighted the fact that Kooltherm was not being tested, while another insulation product, made by a company called Celotex, which was used in Grenfell, was being tested.

Transparency

Conservative Party MP, Sir David Amess, chair of the UK parliament’s joint committee on fire safety and rescue, warned that the whole process must be transparent. “Any products used in the cladding that may be flammable, they must of course be tested,” he said. The politician added that he would raise the issue with the relevant ministers.

Richard Hull, professor of chemistry and fire science at the of University of Central Lancashire, claimed that the tests could not be described as objective.

Kingspan did not comment when contacted by The Irish Times tonight. It issued a statement to Channel 4 pointing out that the UK’s Building Research Establishment had requested Booth Muirie’s aid in carrying out the tests. The Irish company said that its only interest was helping the expert panel to understand the fire and safety issues following the Grenfell tragedy.

Contractors

Kingspan has said that it only learned that Kooltherm was used after the fire, and that it came from a distributor that supplied contractors working on Grenfell’s refurbishment, not from the company itself.

“Whilst we are still seeking to establish the facts of what occurred, it appears that Kooltherm K15 has been used without our knowledge, as part of a combination for which it was not designed, and which Kingspan would never recommend,” the company said earlier this month.

Composite panels

The cladding on Grenfell included aluminium composite panels and insulation. Most of the insulation was made by UK-based Celotex, which is part of French multinational Saint Gobain.

The Grenfell Tower fire resulted in the deaths of more than 80 people and counts as one of the worst disasters in Britain in the past century. It is the subject of a police investigation.

After the fire, it emerged that local authorities throughout Britain used similar cladding to that implicated in the disaster on hundreds of tower blocks. The expert panel’s tests are designed to establish how safe those materials are.