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  1. ITV Report

Firefighters issued warning on flammable building panels in May

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Fire chiefs issued a warning to every London council over flammable cladding in May this year, it has emerged.

They said that "combustible" panels were being used that could potentially spread blazes between flats in a letter seen by ITV News which was sent to all 33 local authorities in the capital.

The letter was sent out as a result of investigations into an earlier fire at the Shepherd's Court council block in Hammersmith, west London, which spread over the outside of the building.

Subsequent testing of panels on the building showed they could "allow the fire to spread" and did not meet housing regulations on fire safety.

"In the case of this fire, we believe such panels were a contributory factor to the external fire spread," wrote Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly.

On testing it was found that panels may deform or delaminate exposing any combustible core or constituent material resulting in the panel becoming involved in the fire and allowing the fire to spread and enter flats other than the flat of origin of the fire.

– London Fire Brigade
Firefighters had urged councils to take steps to ensure buildings were safe. Credit: PA

Mr Daly also said that concerns over potentially flammable filler panels on the outside of blocks also been raised in an earlier letter dating back to 2009.

He warned that such cladding broke regulations over fire safety and urged local authorities to take proactive steps to ensure lives were not put at risk.

"In the light of fires that have occurred, I would urge you to consider carefully your arrangements for specifying, monitoring and approving all aspects of future replacement and improvement to building facades and construction of new buildings for which you are responsible," he wrote.

"I would therefore strongly urge that you consider this issue as part of the risk assessment process for premises under your control."

The Shepherd's Court fire is thought to have been caused by a faulty tumble dryer and required 120 firefighters as it ripped through the 18-storey building.

No one was killed but two flats were destroyed and seriously damaged two more.

  • Read the full letter from the London Fire Brigade:

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