Our thoughts remain with all those people who have been affected by the terrible and devastating events of 14 June 2017, including those who tragically lost their lives, their loved ones, families and friends.
Sir Martin Moore-Bick made clear in his Phase 1 Report that the tragedy of Grenfell Tower was caused by the installation of a cladding system which did not meet the requirements of Building Regulations.
Exova provided fire safety advice to KCTMO principally in the “pre-tender” phase of the proposed Grenfell Tower refurbishment. The cladding system, however, was chosen in a later stage, once Rydon, the lead contractor, had been appointed with overall responsibility for design, construction, and compliance. Exova was not part of the process of selecting the cladding — in particular, the critical decisions in relation to the choice of materials — nor was it responsible for designing, installing, or approving the system.
In fact, after the lead contractor was appointed in March 2014, it chose not to appoint Exova or ask Exova to update the advice that it had given previously, before the cladding system had been chosen.
Those other parties, who were responsible for choosing, approving, and installing an unlawful system, will need to explain why they did not seek or obtain the right approvals, and how it was that a completion certificate was granted for the project.
Exova’s advice was initially sought by KCTMO in 2012, principally in relation to the proposed changes to the lower four floors of Grenfell Tower. Exova provided this advice primarily in 2012 and 2013. This was before KCTMO handed the Grenfell Tower project over to a ‘design and build’ contractor, in 2014.
In addition to taking on all aspects of design, construction, and compliance, Rydon, the ‘design and build’ contractor, was also responsible for choosing sub-contractors and consultants, and deciding what professional advice they needed and when.
It was only later in 2014, after this appointment, that the decision was made to choose ACM panels with a PE core. That decision was made without involving or consulting Exova.
Previously, at the time of its reports, no plans had been shared with Exova that would have indicated an adverse impact on external fire spread over the tower. That was reflected in Exova’s advice, which nonetheless cautioned that the position was subject to further analysis. That further analysis was not requested.
Evidence already provided to the Inquiry demonstrates that cost control became a central focus on the refurbishment project, with the façade identified as an area where costs could be reduced. This appears to have led to discussions which chose to abandon the concept of zinc cladding, which had been considered previously, in favour of a cheaper ACM/PE system. Exova was not part of these discussions, nor was it responsible for selecting specific materials or designing the façade system.
At the end of the project Exova had no role in conducting a Fire Risk Assessment (a statutory requirement) for the refurbished building, nor was it asked to provide any input into that exercise.
Exova will continue to provide the Inquiry with its full support and cooperation.
Exova Group plc was a laboratory-based testing business, listed on the London Stock Exchange until June 2017. Exova Warringtonfire was the fire testing, certification, and consulting division of the Exova Group. Element Materials Technology, a global materials testing business, reached an agreement to acquire Exova Group plc in April 2017. The deal was approved by Exova shareholders in May 2017, with the transaction formally completing on 29 June 2017.
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