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Reclad Contributed to Spread of Fire


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Jun 19, 2007
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Bloor and Sherbourne
Looks like a cheap and disrespectful reclad contributed to today's London tower tragedy:



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I was wondering the same thing. Also now curious how prevalent this type of material is in Ontario.

Don't think it is very common - but I think it may have implications wrt the move to reclad existing apartment towers for performance purposes. The speed at which the exterior cladding burns is horrifying - almost like paper.

Here is another example:

(Warren Chang)

Perhaps this could lead to a new understanding of fire dynamics. Similar to how the fire at King's Cross station led to the understanding of the Trench Effect. Or maybe it actually was this effect (with the superheating of the zinc panels or curtain wall glazing causing a flashover up the tower).
Then you have the cigarette butt flippers. Who discard their spent cigarettes over their balconies, maybe unto balconies below, causing fires.


When I lived in a condo, I had a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Didn't think I would need another fire extinguisher on the balcony!
Closest thing I've seen to a big city fire was St Jamestown in 2010. I remember it being very windy that day, which I think was later attributable to the bad fire. But with what happened in London, ignition (whether a cigarette or something else), probably isn't the real issue. It's how the heck it spread up so rapidly. Looking at the pre-fire imgaes, nothing really seems all that flammable. Which I think could be part of the problem. All the materials may be deemed inert/non-hazardous. That is, until they become superheated by a small fire near the base of the inclined surface...



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Remember that it sounds like a primary motive for the reclad wasn't "performance", but rather aesthetics, i.e. so it'd "look better" to neighbours, etc. Essentially, the "70s Brutalism is shabby ugly shite and an urban visual blight" mentality all over again.
From BBC:

The cladding installed on Grenfell Tower was also used on other buildings that have been hit by fires around the world, the BBC has learned.

The exterior cladding, added in 2015, had a polyethylene - or plastic - core instead of an even more fireproof alternative, BBC Newsnight understands.

High-rise buildings in France, the UAE and Australia that had similar cladding have all been hit by fires that spread.