Synthetic foam – Celotex RS5000 – was not in the original architects’ specifications for the tower and Harley’s project manager, the coating contractor, admitted on Monday that he had not verified that it complied with building regulations to prevent fires from spreading through the exterior walls of tall buildings.
A Celotex vendor had pushed the idea of using the Grenfell Tower as a case study for the use of polyisocyanurate foam on tall buildings.
Ben Bailey, the Grenfell Project Manager for Harley, said the only performance review he had seen was for thermal insulation, not fire performance.
Bailey was put in charge of the siding contract at the age of 25, with no experience overseeing a project as an end-to-end project manager. He is the son of Harley owner Ray Bailey and told the inquest on Monday that he had no training or qualifications in fire safety in building construction, building regulations or codes of practice. industry for the design and installation of siding and windows.
Celotex insulation was installed behind composite aluminum panels, also combustible, with a polyethylene core. In addition to installation failures, the materials fueled the UK’s deadliest fire since World War II. It has since been withdrawn from sale.
Bailey, now 30, said Harley was offered a 47.5% discount on foam, which investigating counsel Richard Millett QC called “heavy”. Bailey said this was not unusual for large orders. When asked if the reason for using the material was its price, Bailey replied, “I don’t think so. ”
The investigation saw a document which showed that in April 2015, Celotex had discussed with Bailey whether to use the Grenfell project as a “case study” for their new material for the high-rise market: the RS5000.
“I don’t remember that meeting or that in particular,” Bailey said, but said it was later.
“Did you get the impression that the Grenfell Tower was sort of a guinea pig for the installation of the RS5000?” Millett asked.
“It’s not a thought that crossed my mind,” he said.
But he added: “There was correspondence later in the year about a case study. ”
Celotex RS5000 was introduced to the market just as Harley was starting to source materials for Grenfell. It differed from the material on the architect’s specifications. Harley had a contractual obligation to Rydon, the prime contractor, to change materials only with her consent, but Bailey said he didn’t know.
It also did not review a contract document claiming that Harley was responsible for ensuring the siding met the requirements of official guidelines for exterior wall fire behavior. He also said Harley had to comply with all building regulations and a national standard for walls with vertical rainscreens, and said: “The system should not be a fire hazard at any stage. installation, nor constitute a fire hazard after completion if for any reason the insulation is exposed.
“I was not aware of this document at the time,” Bailey said.
Bailey was also unaware that the product documentation for the RS 5000 indicated that its classification for safe use on buildings over 18m only applied to the system as tested and detailed in the Classification Report, which did not test it with combustible and plastic filled aluminum panels
“It’s not something I was aware of,” Bailey said.
He said he had no training to understand building regulations or to stay abreast of industry codes of practice for the design and installation of siding and windows. He said it was never his role to consider the fire behavior of materials.
The investigation is continuing.