(Repeats Friday story without changes)
By Tom Bergin
LONDON, June 16 The manufacturer of the panels
used to clad the London tower block where at least 30 people
died in a fire this week advised customers against using its
polyethylene-cored tiles -- the ones reportedly used at Grenfell
Tower -- in high rise buildings.
Diagrams in a brochure dated 2016 for Reynobond tiles
reviewed by Reuters show how polyethylene (PE) core tiles are
suitable only for buildings of up to 10 metres in height. "As
soon as the building is higher than the fire fighters' ladders,
it has to be conceived with an incombustible material," the
The brochure was issued by French-based Arconic
Architectural Products, which is responsible for the marketing
in Europe of systems produced by U.S. company Arconic,
which owns Reynobond.
The Guardian and the BBC have reported in recent days that
panels with a PE core were used in a refurbishment of the
24-storey tower bock that was completed last year.
Construction company Rydon Group, which undertook the work,
and the local authority which owns Grenfell Tower declined to
confirm whether the panels were PE.
Arconic did not respond to requests for comment.
Rydon had earlier said the revamp "met all required building
control, fire regulation and health and safety standards".
Other diagrams in the Reynobond brochure show that panels
with a fire retardant core -- the FR model, according to
Arconic's website -- can be used for buildings of up to 30
metres tall. Above that height, it says, panels with a
non-combustible core -- the A2 model -- should be used.
Grenfell Tower is over 60 metres tall.
Documents submitted in 2015 by the local authority's
property division to its planning division seeking approvals for
the refurbishment said the concrete and brick building would be
clad in Reynobond insulation panels.
John Cowley, director of Omnis Exteriors which supplied the
padding for the refurbishment but did not install it, told the
Guardian that the company had been asked to supply the Reynobond
The newspaper said the PE panels were 2 pounds ($2.56)
cheaper per square metre than the Reynobond FR option.
Reuters has not been able to confirm independently whether
the PE panels were ultimately used or whether the use of PE-core
panels is legal in Britain.
Fire safety experts say polyethylene is generally avoided in
tall buildings as it has been linked to a number of rapidly
spreading fires at skyscrapers in Dubai and elsewhere.
"Polyethylene is a thermoplastic material, which ... melts
and drips as it burns, spreading the fire downwards as well as
upwards," architectural consultants Probyn Miers said in a note
on insulation materials posted its website.
Witnesses to Wednesday's blaze said the flames spread
quickly up the building, which was left a charred shell.
The London Fire Brigade has yet to say what the cause of the
Building regulations documents did not specifically say
PE-core panels should not be used, but three industry experts
interviewed by Reuters said that did not mean builders were
clearly permitted to use them. That is because British safety
regulations across many industries are usually principles-
rather than rules-based.
This means the law often requires companies to act safely
without giving a specific definition of what this would involve,
said Christopher Miers of Probyn Miers.
Firms are instead expected to be able to prove in court that
they behaved in a way that their industry would consider safe,
given current knowledge and technology, these experts added.
(Editing by Catherine Evans)