Celotex and Grenfell Tower: Updates and information
The Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 was a terrible tragedy. Celotex, and the Saint-Gobain Group, re-affirm its deepest sympathies to everyone who has been and continues to be affected by the fire.
This site provides information on Celotex’s RS5000 product and on Celotex’s participation in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
The Inquiry and related investigations are ongoing and Celotex, with the support of the Saint-Gobain Group, continues to cooperate fully in order to find out what happened and to ensure it does not happen again.
Since the Grenfell Tower fire Celotex has undertaken a review of its process controls, quality management and approach to marketing to address issues discovered as part of its investigations following the Grenfell Tower fire, and ensure that no such issues reoccur. Celotex recognises that this is an ongoing process. It is committed to continuous improvement.
Celotex statement 07.02.2022
Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities wrote to the Construction Products Association on 22 January 2022, opening up a dialogue with its members in which Celotex is participating. There is a parallel discussion between the Secretary of State and the major UK property developers.
As a manufacturer of building products, Celotex supports initiatives which are aimed at ensuring that buildings are designed and constructed in such a way that they are safe.
It welcomes, and has fully co-operated with, the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, which has done and will continue to do much to inform all relevant stakeholders as to where industry standards should be improved and the regulatory regime, and its enforcement, enhanced. Celotex also endorses the work of the Industry Safety Steering Group chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt in improving competency and cultures across all sectors of the construction industry, as well as the work undertaken by the Construction Products Association in developing a Code for Construction Product Information.
In addition to measures designed to improve regulations and standards for the future, Celotex acknowledges that redesign and replacement of unsafe cladding systems designed and constructed in the past is a valid objective. The solution for achieving that is far from straightforward given the inherent complexities involved.
Not all buildings with external cladding are unsafe. Their safety depends on, among other things, the design of the particular cladding system for that building and the precise combination of components specified and used within it, as well as the quality of construction of the system.
The design and construction of any building which has a rainscreen cladding system will have been the result of the work of several different construction industry professionals each contributing their own experience and expertise.
Celotex manufactures PIR insulation which can be safely used in a properly designed and constructed rainscreen cladding system.
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry in its Phase 1 Report found that polyethylene-cored ACM cladding panels were the primary driver of external fire spread at Grenfell Tower. This is supported by the tests of cladding systems incorporating ACM-PE panels carried out by the Department for Communities and Local Government (as it was then known) after the Grenfell Tower fire, all of which failed irrespective of the kind of insulation used in the system.
The cladding crisis is a highly complex problem and any industry wide solution would need to be proportionate and fair.
Celotex was acquired in 2012 and cumulative sales of its RS5000 product (marketed for use in the above 18m market between August 2014 and June 2017) accounted for about £5.8 million in revenue in such 3 year period. Celotex’s records do not track and Celotex does not have the means to track which of its sales to distributors relate to products subsequently incorporated by end users into cladding systems on buildings between 11-18m in height. Celotex’s retrospective estimate is that cumulative revenue from the supply of insulation used on buildings of that height in the 15 year period between 2006 and 2021 was in the range of £53 – 58 million.
Celotex understands that the Department is engaging with groups of construction professionals and other industry participants. Once the Department’s proposals are further refined and more is known about the way in which all relevant stakeholders are engaging in them, Celotex is of course willing to engage in further discussions.
Celotex is a manufacturer of PIR insulation. The business is part of Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK limited, which is a member of the Saint-Gobain Group. In 2014, Celotex supplied PIR insulation, known as RS5000, through distributors, which was one of the components used in the Grenfell Tower rainscreen cladding system. The Inquiry has also informed Celotex that its TB4000 PIR insulation product was also used in the window surrounds of the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.
Celotex does not design or install cladding systems and did not do so at Grenfell Tower. The design of the rainscreen cladding system on Grenfell Tower and the selection of the various components were decisions made by construction industry professionals.
The current management of Celotex has undertaken a review of its process controls, quality management and approach to marketing and to ensure that its culture, systems and processes reflect industry best practice and are the subject of continuous improvement.
In April 2018, a test of a particular rainscreen cladding system to BS8414:2 2005 in which RS5000 was one component was shown to meet the criteria of BR135, which was the test result stated as having been achieved in Celotex’s product literature at the time of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment.
Celotex’s 5000 series products were marketed by application for a variety of uses. All products in the 5000 series shared the same foam core, although the facer and finishes may have varied according to the intended application. The constituent elements used for Celotex’s FR5000 and RS5000 products were the same.
Both products have been independently tested. In 2011, the material used for FR5000 and RS5000 was tested for compliance with British Standard 476, Parts 6 and 7 (for spread of flame and fire propagation), and, on the basis of these tests, was classified Class 0.
Celotex marketed FR5000 from the summer of 2011 for pitched roofing, walls and floors. In late 2014, Celotex commissioned a fire performance test pursuant to the relevant standard, BS8414:2, for a particular rainscreen cladding system including FR5000 as one component. Following that test, Celotex marketed the product as RS5000 with client-facing product literature showing that it was intended for use in a rainscreen cladding system for buildings over 18 metres tall and explaining the testing undertaken.
Celotex’s product literature for RS5000 explained that the fire performance and classification report it had obtained only related to the system that Celotex had tested. It also stated that using RS5000 in another cladding system should be the subject of consultation with the building designer. This information was available on the company’s website throughout the period in which the product was on sale.
The rainscreen cladding system installed on Grenfell Tower used combustible ACM cladding panels. The system was substantially different from the rainscreen cladding system described in Celotex’s product literature as having been tested to BS8414:2.
After the fire, Celotex commenced its own review, with the assistance of its professional advisers. This focused on the circumstances in which RS5000 had been tested, launched and marketed. This review was a significant and thorough undertaking. The results of that work, so far as is relevant to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the market and other stakeholders, were disclosed by Celotex as soon as the relevant information became available. The issues learned through that review exercise was previously unknown to current management.
In particular, it became apparent that there were differences between the rainscreen cladding system which had been tested to BS8414:2 for Celotex in May 2014 prior to the marketing of RS5000, and the way that rainscreen cladding system was described in the report of the BS8414:2 test and in Celotex’s product literature.
In order to determine whether the mis-description of the test system gave rise to any safety issues, Celotex commissioned a further BS8414:2 test in April 2018 which replicated as closely as possible the system described in the BS8414:2 test report and the product literature. That test showed that the retested system met the relevant BR135 criteria.
Following the Grenfell Tower Fire, Celotex also undertook additional BS476 testing on the 5000 product range. The test reports issued pursuant to those tests indicated all samples achieved the criteria for a Class 0 rating. Letters issued by the BRE certifying the achievement of Class 0 for the 5000 product range produced on both manufacturing lines can be found here. Accompanying test reports can be found here.
In addition to the BS476 Parts 6 and 7 and BS8414:2 testing described above, prior to the Grenfell Tower Fire, samples of RS5000 (produced in varying thicknesses) were submitted to Exova for testing under the test procedures specified in BS EN13823 (single burning item) and BS EN11925-2 (ignitability when subject to direct impingement of a flame). The related test reports record that the samples tested were rated D-s2, d0 under the classification criteria specified in BS EN13501-1. The test reports can be found here.
In the course of work carried out by Celotex after the Grenfell Tower fire, issues emerged concerning the testing, certification and marketing of Celotex’s products which were previously unknown to Celotex’s current management. Once established, they were promptly and publicly announced in 2017 and 2018 by notices on Celotex’s website and reported to (among others) the relevant testing/certification bodies, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Trading Standards, the Metropolitan Police and the Inquiry.
These matters involved unacceptable conduct on the part of a number of former employees, that was not in line with Saint-Gobain’s values. They should not have happened. Disciplinary proceedings were instituted as a result and six employees left the company (others having resigned previously).
Management at Celotex has been strengthened. The current management team all post-date the launch of RS5000. New marketing, technical, operational, and quality assurance managers have been appointed.
Since the fire and the subsequent investigation, Celotex has undertaken a review of, and has initiated a programme of improvements to, its process controls, quality management and approach to marketing. These improvements are to ensure that its culture, systems and processes reflect industry best practice and are the subject of continuous improvement.
On the morning following the fire, Celotex published an announcement on its website acknowledging the use of its product and confirming its commitment to assist the authorities with their inquiries.
In the days immediately after the fire, as a precautionary measure, Celotex discontinued the sale of RS5000. Celotex also took the decision not to supply any insulation product for use in rainscreen cladding systems on buildings over 18 metres.
Following the fire, Celotex also undertook additional fire safety testing of both its 4000 and 5000 ranges of insulation, which confirmed the test results / classifications to BS476 Parts 6 and 7 that products within these ranges were stated to have at the time of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment. Additionally, in April 2018, a test of a particular rainscreen cladding system to BS8414:2 2005 in which RS5000 was one component was shown to meet the criteria of BR135, which was the test result stated as having been achieved in Celotex’s products literature at the time of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment.
The official investigations into the fire at Grenfell Tower are ongoing in the United Kingdom. This includes a Public Inquiry established by the Prime Minister.
Throughout the Inquiry proceedings and in line with Saint-Gobain’s culture, Celotex has cooperated in full and in a spirit of transparency in order to help find out what happened and to ensure it does not happen again.
The Inquiry is now in Phase 2 of its work during which many issues will be examined including those related to the building’s refurbishment. The hearings have included evidence from a number of individuals who were formerly employed by Celotex. They have been called by the Inquiry to give their own accounts of relevant events.
The design of the rainscreen cladding system on Grenfell Tower and the selection of the various components were decisions made by construction industry professionals. The professionals and contractors included parties who were contractually and professionally obliged to consider the fire safety of the building and its compliance with Building Regulations. Relevant Building Regulations in England focus on systems rather than on individual components: the external façade of a building with a storey height above 18 metres is required to “adequately resist the spread of flame”. This is a question determined not in relation to individual components but by considering the overall design and effect of the system in which they are used.
Celotex was not responsible for these judgments: it did not take them and was not able or expected to take them.
In 2014 Celotex supplied PIR insulation known as RS5000, through distributors, which was one of the components used in the Grenfell Tower rainscreen cladding system. Celotex does not design or install cladding systems and did not do so at Grenfell Tower.
In the days immediately after the fire Celotex discontinued the sale of RS5000 on a precautionary basis. Celotex subsequently also made the decision not to supply any insulation product for use in rainscreen cladding systems on buildings over 18 metres.
A second Celotex PIR insulation product, TB4000, was supplied through third-party distributors and was found on Grenfell Tower. TB4000 is a general-purpose insulation product.