Grenfell: how structural fire protection measures can prevent further tragedies

23rd Aug

In the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy, structural fire protection has an increased sense of urgency. It’s been more than four years since the fire swept through the block of flats in West London, sadly killing 72 and decommissioning the building.

Yet only last year it was revealed that there was a failing in Grenfell’s structural fire protection measures – including flaws in the building’s cladding and the absence of sprinklers, which were not required by law at the time.

A spokesman for Composites Construction UK explained: “While we can’t turn back the clocks for Grenfell Tower, we do have a responsibility as specialist construction contractors to ensure fire protection is given priority when rehabilitating and repairing our structures.”

In this article, we detail structural fire protection measures, which are all about stopping the spread of fire and prolonging damage to allow inhabitants to evacuate safely.

Methods of structural rehabilitation to aid fire protection:

1. Structural strengthening to prolong building collapse

According to governmental guidelines, buildings need to be able to remain stable in the event of a fire for 30-60 minutes, depending on height. One way to contribute to a building’s fire protection measures is to work on the overall strength of the structure.

2. Fire protection coatings (intumescent coatings) to maintain load-bearing weight

The application of intumescent coatings enables structures to maintain their usual load-bearing weight when exposed to extremely high temperatures. Intumescent coatings are designed to swell up, protecting the materials underneath and providing an extra layer for the flames to tackle through. Extra layer = more evacuation time.

3. Compartmentation to stop fire spreading throughout the structure

Fire doors, fire walls, and cavity barriers are all effective methods of blocking a fire, preventing it from travelling to different areas within a structure. According to fire safety engineers, Grenfell had “multiple catastrophic fire-spread routes”.

4. Proper use of building materials

As previously mentioned, Grenfell’s cladding was part of the failings of its fire protection measures. The cladding used was found to be a flammable, non-fire-resistant type provided by a cheaper supplier.

It’s time to evaluate your structural fire protection measures.

Get in touch with CCUK – specialist construction contractors today for a free feasibility survey.

Further guidelines on structural fire protection

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