A British association for the glass and glazing industry is offering free technical assistance in the wake of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 79 people earlier this month, a blaze that generated temperatures so hot that a survivor said the windows in his apartment melted.
“The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) would like to express its deepest sympathies to all who have been affected by the terrible and tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in West London,” the association said in a statement. “After the recent events, the GGF has now also set up a specialist advisory group drawn from our pool of the world’s leading fire safety experts in glass and glazing who are willing to offer free technical advice and information if required. The GGF is currently writing to all the government authorities, politicians and local government bodies that are or will be concerned with fire safety and any emerging enquiry as a result of this tragedy.”
The fire began on June 14 when a refrigerator burst into flames inside an apartment in the Grenfell Tower. It spread rapidly through the structure’s cladding, which was added during a renovation in 2015-2016. The cladding consisted of two sheets of aluminum wrapped around insulation. It’s made under the Reynobond name by Arconic, which was spun off from Alcoa last year. According to a report this week from the New York Times, the cladding was approved for use in the U.K.
As the fire spread rapidly up the sides of the 24-story building, one survivor said it generated heat intense enough to melt the vinyl windows that were installed as part of the renovation.
“I started to panic,” Christos Fairbairn, who lived on the 15th floor of Grenfell Tower, told the BBC. “I began banging on the window shouting: ‘Help me, help me, I’m stuck!’ I tried to open the window but I burnt my hand on the melted plastic.”
Vinyl is considered one of the safest window framing materials when it comes to fires, according to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. It only starts to melt when the temperature reaches around 320 degrees Fahrenheit, and it won’t ignite unless it’s exposed to temperatures of about 736 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to renovation plans from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Grenfell Tower replaced its older fenestration with double-glazed tilt-and turn windows and inward-opening casement windows.