Grenfell coating company plans to use tower as flagship, survey finds
A company that made flammable insulation used on the Grenfell Tower saw the skyscraper as a “beacon” for its product and cynically exploited the “smoke of confusion” surrounding building regulations, according to an investigation.
Celotex actively promoted its RS5000 product for use on the 220ft (67m) tower in West London, knowing it should have been recalled after security testing, lawyer Stephanie Barwise QC said the victims.
In an email exchange between Celotex and one of its suppliers, the company’s technical manager, Rob Warren, wrote: 18m (59ft) and only above 18m it had to be non-combustible or compliant to the requirements of BR135.
“Clearly wrong. The fire does not have a tape measure and if it starts on the ground floor, it will love to cover the first 18 meters. Just show the smoke of confusion over there.
The supplier replied: “Never has the expression ‘smoke and mirrors’ been more appropriate”, and added that “if it was specifically challenged” he would opt for a different product but “if I am not challenged , it will be RS5000 “.
Ms Barwise added: “This is, as Celotex well knows, how their marketing strategy worked.
“Contractors and designers would use the fact that the sales literature indicated its use over 18 meters to get it into buildings if they could get it past the building control inspector. “
The statement said, “They knew the test was being used to market the product.
“Although instead of recalling the product, as they should have had, Celotex actively promoted the product for use on Grenfell and even offered to use Grenfell as a flagship project to advertise the RS5000.”
He added: “Manufacturers of insulation and siding panels, who were involved in actively promoting their products specifically for use at Grenfell, knew that some were misinformed about building regulations / guidance and have exploited this lack of knowledge.
“The level of contempt shown by manufacturers for safety is extraordinary, especially since Arconic and Celotex understood that their products were combustible and indeed highly flammable.”
Celotex had previously told the investigation that it marketed its product after “successfully testing a rainscreen coating system incorporating the RS5000” in 2014.
Its attorney, Craig Orr QC, said its marketing literature promoted its use on buildings over 18m in height only on a “rainscreen cladding system with specific components”, used when it was used. passed a fire safety test, and stipulated any modification of these components. “Should be taken into account by the designer of the building”.
“The rainscreen coating system described in Celotex’s marketing literature was nothing like the rainscreen system installed at Grenfell Tower,” he added.