Celotex and Grenfell Tower: Updates and information
The Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 was a terrible tragedy. Celotex, and the Saint-Gobain Group, reaffirm their 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 hearings concluded with closing statements in November 2022 and the Inquiry is expected to publish its Phase 2 report in 2023. Celotex, with the support of the Saint-Gobain Group, has cooperated fully with the Inquiry 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.
Statement from Saint-Gobain, released on the 6th December 2023, regarding the agreement with SOPREMA for the sale of a majority stake in the Celotex business.
Celotex statement 13.04.23
A number of parties have been engaged in a process of alternative dispute resolution for a large number of civil claims brought by the bereaved, survivors and local residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. That process has been facilitated by Lord David Neuberger, former President of the Supreme Court, and by Mr William Marsh, an experienced and well-respected mediator. We are one of the Defendant parties which has been participating in that process.
We welcome the conclusion of the ADR process. As a result of constructive and collaborative engagement between the parties, settlement terms have been agreed without the need for lengthy court proceedings. This includes an agreement by the group of Defendants who participated in the ADR process to collectively pay financial compensation.
Without admission of liability, Celotex has agreed to make a financial contribution towards the settlement. The principal financial implications for Celotex as a result of this settlement are reflected in the financial reporting for the year ended 31 December 2022 because of a provision made by Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK Limited. Celotex has also agreed to make a contribution towards educational projects within the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
Celotex and the Saint-Gobain Group reaffirm their deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the fire.
Celotex is a manufacturer of PIR insulation. The business is currently part of Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK limited, which is a member of the Saint-Gobain Group.
Celotex’s connection with Grenfell Tower was as the manufacturer of two PIR insulation products used in the refurbishment. Celotex RS5000 (supplied through distributors) was one of the components used in the Grenfell Tower rainscreen cladding system. The Inquiry has also informed Celotex that its TB4000 insulation was used to fill gaps in the window surrounds during the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.
Celotex was not part of the design or construction team on the Grenfell Tower project. Celotex does not design, supply or install cladding systems and did not do so at Grenfell Tower. It does not install insulation and did not do so at Grenfell Tower.
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 Inquiry hearings concluded with closing statements in November 2022 and the Inquiry is expected to publish its Phase 2 report in 2023.
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.
Celotex welcomes the methodical and rigorous approach that has been taken by the Inquiry, including taking evidence from a large number of expert witnesses. The Inquiry’s Phase 2 hearings included evidence from a number of individuals who were formerly employed by Celotex, who were 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.