Combustible: Uncovering the causes of Grenfell
Combustible places cladding on trial for its role in horrific tower fires. It also exposes the negligence and cost-cutting that have resulted in houses being covered with flammable cladding.
The Grenfell Tower fire was a disaster that defined 2017. The task of fully uncovering the catalogue of mistakes and negligence that resulted in the devastating blaze could take years.
However, one fact quickly emerged, and seemed emblematic of the broader issues around housing that led to the fire. It is now known that the fire-resistant zinc cladding that had been approved by residents of Grenfell Tower was replaced with cheaper aluminium cladding with a combustible polyethylene core.
Not only had this aluminium cladding failed safety tests. It had, in fact, been recognised as the cause of a devastating tower fire as early as 2014.
Combustible exposes the infamous record of flammable cladding. With contributions from a range of experts, this documentary reconstructs how this cladding went up in flames in a matter of minutes when a small fire broke out at the Lacrosse tower in Melbourne, Australia, in 2014. The same cladding was subsequently involved in a similar blaze at the Torch Tower in Dubai in 2015.
After the Lacrosse fire, investigators made a terrifying discovery. Weight-for-weight, the polyethylene core within aluminium cladding contains as much energy as petrol. We have, quite literally, been covering our buildings with fuel.
As Australian lawmakers and researchers asked themselves how such a dangerous situation could have been allowed to happen, people blamed inadequate safety regulations and a culture of cost-cutting in the housing sector. Tragically, lessons that were plain to see in 2014 were allowed to go unlearned. Combustible places cladding on trial for its role in these devastating tower fires, and looks at the changes that will have to be made to prevent another appalling loss of life.
The UK premiere of Combustible is at 9pm on Friday 19th January.