It's been a year and a half since London's Grenfell Tower burned and at least 72 people died.
The fire's deadliness was attributed to a combination to a combination of bad advice once the fire broke out and renovations to the building to sheathe it in Reynobond aluminum composite cladding from Arconic, a measure that was taken to make the building more attractive to people in nearby luxury towers.
Now, Arconic's lawyer has told a Parliamentary committee that the panels were not to blame: he says the fire was so deadly because the building had been renovated with PVC windows, synthetic insulation, and different decorative panels used elsewhere in the building.
He claimed that "a simple fire extinguisher in his hands would have made a big difference to the outcome."
Hockman said: “The external spread of flame was substantially exacerbated by combining ACM PE with combustible PIR [polyisocyanurate] insulation without any horizontal or vertical bands of non-combustible material to limit spread.
“The PIR insulation ensured the fire would spread to new portions of the building.”
He said this “meant that not only did the fire exit from the flat much more quickly than anyone would have expected, but it contributed to an increase in temp within the cladding system cavity.” If the insulation foam had been non-combustible, the London fire brigade might have been able to put it out, he said.
Arconic also argued that if internal features had been different, including fire doors, lack of sprinklers, the ventilation system, “then the fire would have penetrated the building much less rapidly and thus all or at least much of the tragic loss of life would have been spared”.
Hockman said: “The tragedy at Grenfell Tower shows the awful consequences which can arise when combustible materials are used in a particular combination. However, that does not show that the use of ACM panels in itself would have given rise to a risk to health and safety.”
Grenfell cladding firm: 'fire could have been put out with simple extinguisher' [Robert Booth/Guardian]