Grenfell cladding makers did not reveal ‘disastrous’ fire test information

The business that made the cladding panels used on Grenfell Tower did not tell certifiers about a “devastating” failed fire test on among its products regardless of being “legally obliged” to do so, the questions into the fire has actually heard.

Claude Schmidt, the president of Arconic’s French arm, rejected the test outcomes were “deliberately concealed”, but agreed the omission amounted to a “deceptive half fact” during proceedings on Wednesday.

He agreed the firm was “lawfully required” to share the 2004 test “5B” data for its Reynobond PE (polyethylene) cassette product with certifiers and concurred it was a matter of “definitely essential safety information”. The panels can be found in 2 differently shaped variations– cassette and rivet.

However cassette, which was fitted on the west London high-rise block, burned much faster and released about seven times as much heat and three times the rate of smoke as the riveted version.

Nevertheless, cassette test data was not shown accreditation bodies or customers and cassette and rivet were sold under the same fire safety certificate provided by the British Board of Agrément (BBA) in 2008.

The Grenfell Tower Questions’s chief counsel, Richard Millett QC, stated under Arconic’s agreement with the BBA it had to supply “any test data readily available”.

He asked Schmidt: “Would it follow that Arconic was lawfully required to offer the available test data to the BBA?”

Schmidt, through a French interpreter, responded: “Yes, most likely. According to the contract, Arconic was expected to notify the BBA however at the very same time that details … could have been acquired differently.

” The information definitely was offered and it might have been supplied if it had actually been asked for.”

The witness declaration of Claude Wehrle– a technical manager at Arconic who is declining to offer oral proof to the query, pointing out a little-used French statute– said in his witness declaration the company regarded the cassette test as a “rogue” outcome.

He said: “I thought about that the BBA would have the ability to identify the pertinent test as having been conducted utilizing a rivet system, and had no reason to question that if the BBA had actually felt it required to ask for any other system test reports they would have done so.”

Millett asked Schmidt if not providing test 5B to the BBA was a “intentional concealment of what Arconic understood to be the true position, namely that the cassette variant of Reynobond 55 PE performed disastrously in a fire?”

Schmidt stated: “No, when you state deliberate, that’s too much.”

Asked if it was unintentional, he said: “I can’t reply … [and] I can’t know what Claude Wehrle was considering or thinking at the time.”

Asked by Millett if offering only the rivet information to the BBA as agent of the fire performance of the Reynobond PE range amounted to “a misleading half truth”, Schmidt said: “Yes, you can see it like that.”

The query was also revealed an e-mail from the BBA to Wehrle which requested “any additional or missing out on details you may feel could be useful to the user/specifier”.

Schmidt concurred with Millett that the “user or specifier would not just discover the test 5B beneficial but in reality absolutely essential safety information”. But Schmidt stated it was “too strong” to call it “life and death stuff”.

The query continues.

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