One of Napier University’s residence halls is partially built with the same cladding as the one used on London’s Grenfell Tower, where at least 79 people were killed when it caught fire earlier this month, a spokesman has confirmed.
According to The Scotsman, Bainfield Halls is the first building in Scotland confirmed to share the same cladding as Grenfell’s on quarter of its external walls, but the insulating material, said to be the major driver in the Grenfell disaster, differs.
“Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London we immediately began a review of all our buildings,” the spokesman said.
“Work has already begun to remove and replace the cladding as a precautionary measure, and we are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to ensure it is safe to continue to use the building as normal.”
The removal work is expected to take around four weeks. There is no decision to evacuate the block.
On June 14, a ghastly inferno swept through Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey tower block in North Kensington that houses over 400 people. Fire safety experts have suggested the cladding used on Grenfell could be the reason the fire spread so quickly externally.
Last week, BBC reported that a student block underway in Newcastle is being built with the same cladding as Grenfell but its operations director Gerry Mather said it “meets all fire safety and building regulations” and has sought “additional information and reassurances” from the architect, building control and fire safety consultants.
— Edinburgh Evening News (@edinburghpaper) June 28, 2017
At Bainfield, however, the fire service is carrying out a full audit of the building and the Edinburgh City Council are identifying any private property that could be at risk well, although the council has confirmed that the Grenfell cladding has not been used in council or housing association blocks.
Local councillor Gavin Corbett said the Bainfield discovery will shock students and the wider community.
“While the fire service advice appears to be that there is no need to evacuate, if there is even a sliver of doubt I believe the university must offer alternative accommodation for those students directly affected,” Corbett said.
Yesterday, the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee announced that there will be a review of the high-rise flats in the country, a move that NUS Scotland’s President Vonnie Sandlan praised as “encouraging”.
However, Sandlan called for the review to extend to educational and student accommodation buildings as well.
“Students live in a range of accommodation, so any review into building safety absolutely has to take into account all university, college, and private student accommodation buildings.
“The Scottish Government and the Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee must also investigate whether any breaches of regulations have taken place and look into whether current regulations need to be amended to include student accommodation.”