The company that sold the combustible insulation used at Grenfell Tower deliberately tampered with fire safety tests and misled customers, as a former manager told Grenfell Inquiry
An inquiry has already heard that Celotex RS5000 Insulation Foam Board has been misleadingly marketed as being safe for use in buildings over 18 meters high, despite a fire safety test that only verifies the product’s authenticity for use with the same components tested with.
But now, former Celotex Product Manager Jonathan Roper confirms that the fireproof magnesium oxide panels have been used in the fire safety test, which BRE conducted in May 2014, without announcing it in the test report or subsequent marketing.
This evaluation followed a previous fire test of the product three months earlier, which failed after the fire was extinguished after it reached the top of the test bench in 26 minutes..
Roper explained that Celotex was « totally misleading » in its marketing because it was desperate to break into the £ 10m market for foam insulation that could be used in buildings over 18m high.
The former Celotex employee agreed with Richard Millett, Grenfell’s investigative advisor, that his company’s actions were « dishonest » on seven separate points related to the marketing of the RS5000 insulation product.
Roper admitted: “I had done so much at Celotex that, if we looked back in thinking, was totally unethical.. I thought this was a normal practice even though it wasn’t very comfortable with me.
He added, “I felt totally uncomfortable, but just as useless in the lead up to the entire test, right up to the marketing, until the launch..
“It was one of the contributing factors for me to leave my role as a product manager, because I felt so far uncomfortable with what was published and what was launched, and I knew that there would be a level of questioning that came in the post launch phase that would basically mean I will have to lie to make business gain again.
Roper added that tampering with test results was a « common practice, » saying that he could not whistle at a company executive because « all of the procedure board members, I believe, were present when [his colleague] presented the truth and the decision was made. ».
“Then, I hear and see that this isn’t the only processing of test data that this company has undergone.
“I think there are issues with the Class 0 fire report, and I think there are thermal performance issues for their entire product range. It was clearly within the culture of that business at the time, and I’m sorry for my role in it. It’s something that I should be – well, sure – be a little more anxious about.
The Celotex RS5000 lit fires and toxic gases during the Grenfell Tower fire, according to a report published by the Grenfell Investigation. The product was taken off the market nine days after the Grenville fire.
The manufacturer has already acknowledged the « unacceptable behavior » in certification and marketing of its RS5000 product, but also insists that construction professionals should have known that the product is flammable.
Richard Millett, Inquiry Counselor: So any designer looking to follow your warning words, Celotex’s cautionary words, and to replicate the cladding system that Celotex has been describing here in this marketing literature as having passed this test would in fact be designing a cladding system that didn’t Passes [fire safety test]? Jonathan Roper: Right, yeah. Millett: These omissions and misrepresentations were not accidental, were they? Roper: No, it wasn’t. Millet: They were completely intentional. Roper: Yes, they were. Millet: If I had faithfully described the test components as actually being used, that would have given the game away from how to achieve the pass, right? Roper: Right. Millett: And the actual system it passed was not commercially viable, at least as a competitor to the K15. Roper: That’s right. .
Building Insulation, Celotex, Grenfell Tower Fire
World News – GB – Grenfell Insulation has « tampered » with fire safety tests, former employee confesses
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