Grenfell Tower-type cladding used in Cork County Hall

The same cladding used in the multi-fatality Grenfell tower block in London was installed at County Hall, the headquarters of Cork County Council, writes Sean O’Riordan.

The council has commissioned a report on the proper installation of the material following the discovery and said it will act on any recommendations made by the experts compiling the report.

The cladding was installed in one section of the building on the Carrigrohane Road during a €62m refurbishment of County Hall’s 17-storey headquarters, completed in 2006.

Cork's County Hall
Cork's County Hall

The council confirmed it found the cladding present around the exterior of the main council chamber on floor two, nicknamed ‘the pressure cooker’ because of its circular design.

The cladding is called Reynobond Aluminium Composite Material. It is being blamed for the rapid spread of the fire at the 24-storey Grenfell tower block in North Kensington.

The official death toll after that fire stands at 79, but is expected to rise considerably.

The council said a similar aluminium composite material panel has been used to a limited extent within the [County Hall] building.

It said its chief fire officer and the building’s facility manager have reviewed the matter and believe that because of the limited extent of use and the fire safety measures installed, it doesn’t pose any increased risk to employees or visitors.

Grenfell Tower
Grenfell Tower

A council spokeswoman said the building is served by a wide range of fire- safety measures including sprinkler protection, automatic smoke ventilation system, automatic smoke detection, and alarm system and good escape routes.

However, the council said it has nonetheless commissioned a report on the proper installation of the material in question and will take any further necessary action should this raise a concern of any nature.

Meanwhile, flammable cladding has been found on 75 high-rise buildings across 26 British local authority areas.

Communities and Local Government secretary Sajid Javid said hospitals and schools will also be tested to make sure they are not encased in combustible cladding.

The so-called combustibility test has been failed by every building tested so far, Mr Javid said.

Here, Independent TD Tommy Broughan has queried why the new Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy, requires clarifications before publishing a review commissioned in 2015 that tasked an independent fire expert with developing a framework supporting owners and residents living in developments where concerns arise around compliance with fire safety requirements.

Was this report just sitting on a desk gathering dust until the tragic Grenfell Tower fire?” he asked.

Mr Broughan also questioned the system of self- certification in place in Ireland since 1992, saying it doesn’t work.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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