Belligerent Kingspan manager facing fire problems in 2008, Grenfell inquiry hears

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A senior Cavan-based Kingspan executive who fabricated combustible insulation used on London’s Grenfell Tower said a builder who questioned the fire safety of his product should “screw himself up”, he learned. public inquiry into the fire.

Philip Heath, a technical manager at the company, also said of a contractor trying to verify what turned out to be misleading claims about the safety of his foam boards: “If they’re not careful , we will chase their ass. ” He also told friends that builders who asked questions mistook him for “someone giving a dam.”

Anger responses to the questioning of the safety of the equipment appeared in 2008 emails shown to the investigation into the June 2017 fire that killed 72 people. The investigation is currently examining the manufacture, testing and sale of materials used in the tower renovation in West London.

Kingspan Kooltherm K15 was one of two types of insulation used which were found to be combustible. The investigation has already learned from a former executive that the company was involved in “deliberate and calculated deception”, which involved marketing the product without solid evidence. Kingspan has denied the wrongdoing and said it did not know its material was being used on Grenfell.

In cross-examination by investigative counsel Kate Grange QC, Heath denied that his tone “reflected a culture in Kingspan at the time” but admitted: “It was not at all professional”.

Product testing

Kingspan sold their insulation based on testing on an older version of the product that caught fire more slowly and emitted less heat. In 2008, Bowmer & Kirkland, a contractor, wanted to be assured of the suitability of the new version for a tower called City Park.

Heath assured the K15 builder was “classified as class 0, or low risk” and said it was suitable for use in rainscreen facades, “and is found to be satisfactory”. At the time, however, the material was struggling to meet a key safety standard. He sent a safety certificate for a test three years earlier on a less combustible formulation of the material.

Bowmer & Kirkland were not satisfied and replied: “You did not justify … on what basis the Kooltherm K15 is suitable for buildings over 18m?”

Heath forwarded this email to friends saying, “I think Bowmer and Kirkland are mistaking me for someone giving a dam. I’m trying to think of a way out of this one, imagine a fire going up in this tower !!!!!? !!!! Ideas?? “

Asked by Grange why he mentioned a fire, Heath said he was trying to explain “some of the implications”.

Shortly after Bowmer & Kirkland’s request, another contractor on the same project expressed concern. Wintech complained that the material was unsuitable because its intended coating had open joints, so “the external fire breakthrough … will be easier than the test sample”.

Asked by Grange whether these points were “entirely legitimate” Heath nodded. But at the time, he told his colleagues, “Wintech can fuck off.”

The investigation learned last week that Kingspan had threatened to take legal action against a new home certification and warranty body, NHBC, if it shared concerns with the market over the company’s evidence. for his allegations.

When asked why he didn’t take the issues seriously given that they were about ‘the safety of people’, Heath said, ‘I think we took the safety of people seriously.’

Kingspan’s sister company Kingspan Off-Site also asked Heath about the K15’s fire performance, and he did not disclose that his performance was worse in more recent tests than before. He shared with a colleague what he was telling Kingspan Off-Site to try to justify his use of the material, commenting: “I’m spinning so much I’m dizzy. “

The investigation is continuing. – Guardian News & Media 2020

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