Inside Housing – Insight – Grenfell community group says lobbying events close to fire anniversary ‘were dancing on the graves of our loved ones’

The Aluminum Federation (Alfed), which describes itself as ‘the voice of the UK aluminum industry’, had planned a reception in the House of Lords last Tuesday.

The membership body, which counts Kingspan and Arconic among its members, said the £99 event was an opportunity to “raise and discuss issues relating to the UK aluminum sector at most high level of the British government”.

Arconic produced the violently flammable Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) panels which have been identified as the ‘root cause’ of the rapid spread of fire at Grenfell Tower.

A small amount of combustible Kingspan K15 insulation was used on the tower, and the company has come under heavy criticism from lawyers representing bereaved and survivors for promoting its product for use on buildings of great height in the years preceding the fire.

Grenfell United slammed the planned event, saying they would “get no closer to justice” while such a relationship exists.

Alfed did not confirm whether the event went as planned. An industry source said they understood it had been reorganized due to the train strike. It’s unclear if anyone from Arconic or Kingspan was planning to attend.

The event follows a parliamentary reception on June 6 – a week before the fifth anniversary of the fire – organized by the National Insulation Association (NIA), which also counts Kingspan among its members.

A press release sent out by the NIA on the anniversary day (June 14) said the event was an opportunity to “celebrate the hard work the industry has done so far and look forward to the priorities and opportunities”.

An NIA spokesperson said the release was “completely unintentional and inadvertent”, but added that it “was insensitive and may have caused injury”.

Grenfell United said: “It is no surprise that the government has held private events with groups representing companies like Arconic and Kingspan around the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell fire.

“While we were in mourning, remembering our loved ones, they took the opportunity to antagonize us and dance on the grave of our loved ones.

“As long as these relations exist, we will not be closer to justice. The worst part is that they will succeed. Because our legal system allows it. It is a system that protects the powerful.

“We will continue to fight to make life difficult for them, to remind them that they are responsible for the deaths of 72 loved ones.”

Inside the housing saw a letter from March last year in which Grenfell United asked Alfed to revoke the membership of Kingspan and Arconic, due to revelations during the investigation into their behavior.

Alfed refused, saying he wanted to wait for the outcome of the investigation before making a decision.

Evidence presented at the inquest included the revelation that Arconic had tests showing the devastating fire performance of its panel when bent into a certain shape as early as 2004, but continued to advertise it as achieving a fire rating much higher.

Kingspan has been shown to rely on a single test pass in 2005, carried out on a legacy version of its product, to advertise its insulation suitable for use on high-rise buildings typically for nine years.

It hasn’t released any other failed tests, including one in 2007 that was described as “hell raging” in an internal document.

About Jonathan J. Kramer

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