RS5000 and Grenfell Tower: Celotex updates and information

IMPORTANT: On 23 June 2017, in view of the focus on components of rainscreen cladding systems, Celotex stopped the supply of Celotex RS5000, pending further clarity. Celotex does not currently supply an insulation product for use in rainscreen cladding systems on buildings over 18 metres tall.

Below you will find statements and information on RS5000 and our response to the Grenfell Tower fire. The material set out below is for information only.

Here you will find the latest statements and information focussing on our response to the Grenfell Tower fire

The Celotex business manufactures PIR insulation. The business is part of Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK limited, which is a member of the Saint-Gobain group. Celotex was acquired by Saint-Gobain Group in September 2012. 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 Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 shocked everyone. Celotex in association with Saint-Gobain reiterates its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims, the survivors and others affected by this tragic event.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry and related investigations are on-going. The Group welcomed the Inquiry and supported its aims. From the beginning, Celotex has been committed to cooperating fully and to being completely transparent with the Inquiry.

Celotex manufactures and supplies insulation products to distributors for use in the construction industry. RS5000 was, from the summer of 2014, marketed for use in rainscreen cladding systems for buildings with a storey height above 18 metres. Sales of RS5000 accounted for approximately 1 % of Celotex’s turnover during the period of sales of RS5000 from August 2014 to June 2017. Celotex net sales amounted to £58M in 2019.

Celotex does not design and 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 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 by individual components but by 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.

Prior to marketing RS5000, in May 2014, Celotex commissioned a fire performance test pursuant to the relevant standard, BS8414:2, for a particular rainscreen cladding system including RS5000 as one component.

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. Such literature 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 was substantially different from the rainscreen cladding system described in Celotex’s product literature.

After the fire, Celotex commenced its own review, with the assistance of its professional advisers. This focused on the circumstances in which RS5000 was tested, launched and marketed. This review was a significant and thorough undertaking. The results of that work, so far as relevant to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the market and other stakeholders, were disclosed by Celotex as soon as the relevant information became available. Details could also be found on Celotex’s website. Much of what was 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 criteria.

Actions taken by Celotex in line with Saint-Gobain’s culture:

On the morning following the fire, Celotex published an announcement on its website acknowledging the use of its product and confirming its willingness to assist the authorities with their inquiries. Celotex continues to fully cooperate with the Inquiry.

In the days immediately after the fire, as a precautionary measure, Celotex discontinued the sale of RS5000.

Following the fire, Celotex undertook extensive work to ensure its products were safe, including submitting products for further fire testing.

It is clear that the matters discovered during the internal investigation involved unacceptable conduct on the part of a number of former employees. They should not have happened and are not in line with the Saint-Gobain culture. 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 been undertaking a detailed review and refresh of its factory process controls, quality management and approach to marketing to ensure that its culture, systems and processes relating to product compliance and product safety meet industry best practice and are the subject of continuous improvement.

Celotex remains committed to cooperating fully with the on-going Grenfell Tower Inquiry and related investigations. 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 the company. They have been called by the Inquiry to give their own accounts of relevant events. 

In the course of work carried out by Celotex after the Grenfell Tower fire, certain 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. They should not have happened and Celotex has taken concerted steps to ensure that no such issues reoccur, including the recruitment of new management to oversee its technical, operational and marketing teams as well as designing and implementing changes to testing processes and quality assurance systems. Celotex’s current management is committed to continuous improvement.

Celotex has undertaken additional fire safety testing of both its 4000 and 5000 ranges of insulation in the period since June 2017. This testing confirmed the test results/ classifications to BS 476, Parts 6 and/ or 7 that products within the ranges were stated to have at the time of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment. 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.

Copies of Celotex’s previous announcements about fire testing can be accessed here and here.

Celotex welcomes Phase 2 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.  As part of Phase 2, the Inquiry will be considering a large number of complex and inter-related issues in connection with the fire, including the design and installation of a multi-component rainscreen cladding system, of which insulation manufactured by Celotex, formed one element.  The first part of the Inquiry will focus on the primary refurbishment.

We endorse the need to find out what happened and to ensure it does not happen again. We are committed to assisting the Inquiry with its work and re-affirm our deepest sympathies to everyone who has been and continues to be affected by the fire.

As we approach the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, Celotex re-affirms our deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the fire.

We are continuing to cooperate fully with the Public Inquiry, which will be considering in Phase 2, a large number of complex and inter-related issues concerning the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, including the design and installation of the rainscreen cladding system, of which insulation made by Celotex formed one element.  Celotex remains committed to providing all relevant information to the Inquiry to assist it in its work.

Celotex is a UK business and the Celotex insulation used at Grenfell Tower was manufactured and sold in the United Kingdom.  Celotex learned on Friday 7 June 2019 of an action being initiated in the United States against a group company, Saint-Gobain Corporation, and other parties, involving allegations in connection with Grenfell Tower. Saint-Gobain Corporation has issued its own statement. 

In January 2018, Celotex announced that its current management team had determined that there had been differences between the rainscreen cladding system which had been tested under BS 8414:2 in May 2014 (which included RS5000) and the description of that system in the report of the test published in August 2014.

Following this, we commissioned a further test under BS 8414:2, which aimed to mirror, as closely as possible, the system as described in the August 2014 report. The test was carried out on this specific rainscreen cladding system which uses cement boards amongst other products on 4 April 2018.

The test results show that the rainscreen cladding system tested (which included RS5000) met the performance criteria specified in BR 1351. The BRE Test Report for this test can be found here and the BRE Classification Report for this test can be found here. We are taking steps to notify the relevant bodies and contact our customers to inform them of the results of this test.

We understand that a rainscreen cladding system using RS5000 also passed the DCLG 2 test 5 3 in August 2017.

The decision to suspend the supply of RS5000 was taken on 23 June 2017 and remains in place.

We are following the independent review of building regulations and fire safety, and the comments from the industry and its stakeholders around testing. We continue to offer full cooperation with the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and related investigations.

1  BR 135 – Fire performance of external thermal insulation for walls of multi-storey buildings, Third Edition, 2013. BR 135 specifies the performance criteria for the test methodology outlined in BS 8414:2

2 Now known as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government

3 BS 8414:1 

In 2014, Celotex launched the PIR rigid board insulation product RS5000 for use in rainscreen cladding systems for buildings above 18m. In advance of the product being launched, the company commissioned full system fire performance tests for a rainscreen cladding system which were carried out pursuant to BS 8414:2.

RS5000 was used as external insulation as part of the rainscreen cladding system in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. We took the decision to suspend supply shortly after the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower and this suspension remains in place.

The company has been conducting a detailed review of the way RS5000 was tested and marketed. The current management team has only recently determined that there were differences between the system as tested for BS 8414:2 and the description of that system in the report of the test. These differences were carried through into our marketing of RS5000.

Our priority is to establish whether there are any safety issues arising from these differences. We have notified the relevant bodies and are taking steps to speak with our customers. We understand that in August 2017, a sample of the same product was used in a full rainscreen cladding system that passed the DCLG 1 test 2. Nevertheless, we are arranging further testing which will assist in clarifying the issue.

It is a matter of real regret for us that this issue has arisen: we fully recognise its potential seriousness and that it will give rise to concern. We are working hard to arrange the further testing as quickly as possible and we will make a further announcement once the results of that testing are available.

1  Now known as the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government.
2  BS 8414-1

We support the Government’s ongoing response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and the steps being taken to restore public confidence in construction methods, the selection of products and materials and the safety of tall buildings.

We continue to offer full cooperation with the investigations which are considering a broad range of factors, such as building construction and the fire safety measures in place. The Government is also undertaking large scale testing of aluminium composite material cladding systems, through the Building Research Establishment [BRE] which aims to establish how different types of ACM panels, in combination with different types of insulation, behave in a fire. We will be reviewing closely the results of the first test released on 28th July, together with the remaining tests in the series which will take place over the next few weeks.

We have been supplying PIR for over 40 years, and have always focussed on supplying safe insulation products to make better buildings.

Celotex is shocked by the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this devastating human tragedy. We have been supplying building products for over forty years and as a business our focus has always been to supply safe insulation products to make better buildings.

We want to do everything that we can to support the Government’s ongoing response to the tragedy. We continue to offer our full cooperation with the investigations.
Celotex notes the comments made by Scotland Yard at this morning’s briefing in respect of the insulation used in Grenfell Tower. In view of the focus on rainscreen cladding systems and the insulation forming part of them, Celotex believes that the right thing to do is to stop the supply of Celotex RS5000 for rainscreen cladding systems in buildings over 18m tall with immediate effect (including in respect of ongoing projects), pending further clarity.

Celotex manufactures and supplies the insulation product RS5000 for use in multicomponent rainscreen cladding systems for buildings over 18m tall.  Safety testing was undertaken on RS5000 as part of a particular rainscreen cladding system and this is described in documents available on our website. As noted in those documents, any changes to components of the cladding system or construction methods used need to be considered by the relevant building designer.
Given the developments of the past twenty four hours, we wish to discuss with the authorities how we can restore confidence in the products that we supply to the above 18m market.

At this early stage, it would not be appropriate for Celotex to make any further comment at this time.

For all media enquiries please call: 07387 411972

As with the rest of the nation our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London. On Wednesday, as soon as we were able to, we confirmed that our records showed a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. We wanted to provide an update to that statement and provide further information as we are able to.

It is important to state that Celotex manufacture rigid board insulation only. We do not manufacture, supply or install cladding. Insulation is one component in a rainscreen system, and is positioned in that system behind the cladding material.

As we previously stated, our records show a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. This product has a fire rating classification of Class 0, in accordance with British Standards. Celotex RS5000 is the insulation component specifically tested as part of a system to British Standard BS8414-2:2005. When the system is designed and installed in line with this, RS5000 meets the criteria set out in BRE Report BR 135 ‘Fire performance of external thermal insulation for walls of multi storey buildings.’

We will of course assist the relevant authorities fully with any enquiries they have.

Our thoughts are with those affected by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London. Our records show a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building.

Full technical information on all of our products is available here on our website. If required, we will assist with enquiries from the relevant authorities at the appropriate time. Due to the nature of this developing situation it would be inappropriate for us to comment or speculate further on this tragedy.

After careful consideration, we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend supply of some of our 5000 product range in light of a recent and unexpected test result. This relates to Celotex FR5000, Celotex CG5000, Celotex CF5000 and Celotex SL5000 which share the same insulation core and facer.1

We recognise that this decision could have some practical implications for some of our customers for which we apologise. We hope in the present circumstances which are explained in further detail below, that customers will understand the reasons behind our decision.

A sample of our 5000 product was tested under Parts 6 and 7 of British Standard 476 (“BS 476”) in 2011 and achieved a Class 0 fire rating.2

In April 2017, we sent a sample of RS5000 for independent testing under both Parts 6 and 7 of BS 476. We were surprised when we learned, in August 2017, that whilst this sample continues to meet the standard for Class 1, the sample did not achieve a Class 0 rating. A sample of this product was used in a full system test for a rainscreen cladding system in 2014, where the system passed. We understand that in August 2017 a sample of the same product passed3 the DCLG test 54 for a full rainscreen cladding system.

All the products in the 5000 range share a core which is made of the same material (Polyisocyanurate or “PIR”). They are marketed under different names according to their intended application (CG5000, FR5000, RS5000 etc.). The sample tested in 2011 was of the product marketed as FR5000. We applied the 2011 test results in relation to Celotex RS5000, Celotex CG5000, Celotex CF5000 and Celotex SL5000. We do not currently know why the RS5000 sample did not achieve a Class 0 rating in these later tests, given the results from 2011 and we are investigating this. In light of this test result and the desire to act responsibly, we believe it is right to temporarily suspend supply of these 5000 ranges. We would like to reassure all of our customers that we will provide additional information once we are in a position to do so in respect of both the results and the applications of these 5000 ranges, and following engagement with the relevant third parties.

We appreciate that many uses to which a product from these ranges is put will not require it to have the Class 0 rating. However, in the current circumstances, we believe it is important that there should be clarity as to the applications the product can be used for with its revised rating. A temporary suspension of supply is the right thing to do in the circumstances and will, we anticipate, also help to achieve that clarity. We shall be making appropriate amendments to our marketing materials. We are recommending to our distributors that they do not sell existing stock in this period and we shall collect any relevant 5000 series products in its original packaging and will credit customers seeking to return such product with the purchase price with no restocking charge, regardless of when the product was supplied to the customer.

As a business, our focus has always been to supply safe insulation products to make better buildings. We believe that taking the time to understand and respond to the test results is in line with these values.

Further to the above additional Class 0 testing was undertaken 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.

1 The 5000 ranges not affected are Celotex FI5000 and Celotex GD5000, which are not marketed or sold by reference to Class 0.

2 As defined in Approved Document B (Building Regulations 2010, Fire Safety, Approved Document B (2006 Edition)). Part 6 relates to flame propagation and Part 7 relates to spread of flame.

3 As further described in the Rainscreen Cladding Compliance Guide on our website.

4 BS 8414-1