Belfast Telegraph

London fire: Executive 'unsure' if cladding on Northern Ireland tower blocks same as Grenfell

Cladding centre of investigation into fire - tower block residents in Northern Ireland have raised concerns

Fire service personnel survey the damage at Grenfell Tower (Rick Findler/PA)
Fire service personnel survey the damage at Grenfell Tower (Rick Findler/PA)
Inside of the Grenfell Tower, as searches for people missing in the inferno are continuing frantically. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to members of the fire service as she visits Grenfell Tower, on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least twelve people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing, after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Inside of the Grenfell Tower, as searches for people missing in the inferno are continuing frantically. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prime Minister Theresa May visits the scene near Grenfell Tower in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building yesterday morning. Rick Findler/PA Wire
Inside of the Grenfell Tower, as searches for people missing in the inferno are continuing frantically. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to Dany Cotton, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, with members of the fire service as she visits Grenfell Tower, on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least twelve people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing, after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Theresa May (C) visits the remains of Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London which was gutted by fire on June 14, 2017. Firefighters searched for bodies today in a London tower block gutted by a blaze that has already left 12 dead, as questions grew over whether a recent refurbishment contributed to the fire. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMENTOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Theresa May (C) meets police officers as she visits the remains of Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London which was gutted by fire on June 14, 2017. Firefighters searched for bodies today in a London tower block gutted by a blaze that has already left 12 dead, as questions grew over whether a recent refurbishment contributed to the fire. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMENTOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to Dany Cotton, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, with members of the fire service as she visits Grenfell Tower, on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least twelve people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing, after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Theresa May (C) speaks with Dany Cotton (L), London Fire Brigade commissioner as she visits the remains of Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London which was gutted by fire on June 14, 2017. Firefighters searched for bodies today in a London tower block gutted by a blaze that has already left 12 dead, as questions grew over whether a recent refurbishment contributed to the fire. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMENTOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Theresa May (C) speaks with police as she visits the remains of Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London which was gutted by fire on June 14, 2017. Firefighters searched for bodies today in a London tower block gutted by a blaze that has already left 12 dead, as questions grew over whether a recent refurbishment contributed to the fire. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMENTOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke and flames billow from the 24-storey Grenfell Tower
Firefighters and their exhausted colleages at the scene
Firefighters and their exhausted colleages at the scene
Grief-stricken people at the scene
Grief-stricken people at the scene
Residents evacuated from the blaze
Undertakers remove a body
A man at a window in the burning tower
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Fire fighters drench the burning 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road, West London on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze while at least 50 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Smoke continues to rise from the burning 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road, West London on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze while at least 50 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Flames and smoke engulf Grenfell Tower, a residential block of flats in west London on June 14, 2017, as firefighters continue to control a fire that started in the early hours of the morning. Six people were confirmed dead in a massive fire that engulfed a London tower block before dawn on Wednesday and the number is expected to rise, police said. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Pic: Rick Findler/PA Wire
Emergency services at the scene after a fire engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Steve Paston/PA Wire
Members of the emergency services carry oxygen tanks as a huge blaze engulfs Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block on June 14, 2017 in west London. The massive fire ripped through the 27-storey apartment block in west London in the early hours of Wednesday, trapping residents inside as 200 firefighters battled the blaze. Police and fire services attempted to evacuate the concrete block and said "a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries", including at least two for smoke inhalation. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVASDANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the emergency services work at the scene of a huge blaze which engulfed Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block on June 14, 2017 in west London. The massive fire ripped through the 27-storey apartment block in west London in the early hours of Wednesday, trapping residents inside as 200 firefighters battled the blaze. Police and fire services attempted to evacuate the concrete block and said "a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries", including at least two for smoke inhalation. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVASDANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the emergency services work at the scene of a huge blaze which engulfed Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block on June 14, 2017 in west London. The massive fire ripped through the 27-storey apartment block in west London in the early hours of Wednesday, trapping residents inside as 200 firefighters battled the blaze. Police and fire services attempted to evacuate the concrete block and said "a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries", including at least two for smoke inhalation. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVASDANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Steve Paston/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: People watch as smoke rises from the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: A heicopter circles as smoke rises from the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Steve Paston/PA Wire
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Rick Findler/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: People watch as smoke rises from the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Rick Findler/PA Wire
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke rises from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A man photographs a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Rick Findler/PA Wire
Smoke pours from a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. Steve Paston/PA Wire
This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford early on June 14, 2017 shows flames and smoke coming from a 27-storey block of flats after a fire broke out in west London. The fire brigade said 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters had been called to the blaze in Grenfell Tower, which has 120 flats. / AFP PHOTO / Natalie Oxford / Natalie OXFORD /
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: A man watches as smoke continues to rise from the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Fire fighters tackle the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze, while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Fire fighters tackle the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze, while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: A fire fighter tackles the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze, while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Fire fighters take a rest near the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze, while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: Smoke rises from the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident as more than 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze while at least 30 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A person, bottom right, peers out of a window from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A person peers out of a window from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford early on June 14, 2017 shows flames and smoke coming from a 27-storey block of flats after a fire broke out in west London.
Firefighters wait to start their shift after a massive fire raged in a 27-floor high-rise apartment building in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Paramedics arrive with oxygen as a huge fire engulfs the Grenfell Tower early June 14, 2017 in west London. The massive fire ripped through a 27-storey apartment block in west London in the early hours of Wednesday, trapping residents inside as 200 firefighters battled the blaze. Police and fire services attempted to evacuate the concrete block and said "a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries", including at least two for smoke inhalation. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel Leal-OlivasDANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford early on June 14, 2017 shows flames and smoke coming from a 27-storey block of flats after a fire broke out in west London. The fire brigade said 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters had been called to the blaze in Grenfell Tower, which has 120 flats. / AFP PHOTO / Natalie Oxford / Natalie OXFORD /
Firefighters react as a huge fire engulfs the Grenfell Tower early June 14, 2017 in west London. The massive fire ripped through a 27-storey apartment block in west London in the early hours of Wednesday, trapping residents inside as 200 firefighters battled the blaze. Police and fire services attempted to evacuate the concrete block and said "a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries", including at least two for smoke inhalation. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel Leal-OlivasDANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Fire engulfing the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London (Natalie_Oxford/PA)
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has said it is unsure if cladding used on its tower blocks across Northern Ireland is the same as that used on the London Grenfell tower.

At least 12 people were killed when a huge fire engulfed the building in the west of the capital in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Residents in the tower's 140 flats have been left homeless and scores of people are in hospital, some in a critical condition.  London Fire Brigade says it expects to find no more survivors and the death toll is set to rise.

Read more: London Grenfell Tower fire: Fire Brigade don't expect any more survivors - death toll set to rise amid grim search for victims

The cladding used on the recently refurbished London tower has been the focus of how the fire spread rapidly through the building.

Colm McQuillan from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive said emergency meetings had been called in the wake of the London fire and checks were being made across all its 32 tower blocks. Four blocks have recently undergone refurbishment and had cladding installed.

We are not going to be complacent. Housing Executive

He said rigorous checks had been made on the cladding prior to installation because residents had expressed concerns on its use. He stressed that all materials met fire regulations.

But - as far as he was aware - it was not the same cladding as that used in the London fire.

Read more: London fire: Our high-rise life, by residents of Belfast's Divis tower

He said the Housing Executive will have completed its checks by Thursday as to if there were any similarities between cladding used in Northern Ireland and that used in the London tower block and the organisation would be publishing its findings. The 1,900 residents are to be re-issued safety advice and manufacturers of its cladding systems would be contacted.

"We are a responsible landlord we take fire safety and safety of tenants very seriously and we intend to do all in our power to ensure tenants they live in safe environment," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster.

where NI's 32 tower blocks are.jpg

Read more: Checks on all tower blocks in Northern Ireland in wake of London horror blaze

"We had tested our cladding before because there were concerns from residents in the blocks we were cladding, about the whole exercise in terms of what it was going to do for them in terms of efficiency and safety.

"We have rigorously tested the cladding that is going on to our buildings to an extent it fits and meets all fire safety regulations as far as we are concerned."

He continued: "But we are not going to be complacent.

"We have emergency meetings set up with the Fire Service today to actually go through any of their thoughts in terms of this tragedy and we will be working very closely with them in terms of what we should be doing. But as far as we are concerned at this particular point in time, we are fully compliant with all fire safety regulations that are in place."

While Northern Ireland tower blocks have alarm systems, they do not have sprinkler systems, the official said. Although he said this was not unusual and down to the age of the building.

Mr McQuillan said advice for residents in the event of a fire and if it wasn't in their flat was to remain in the property, but that would be re-considered in light of the fire.

"Flats are built on compartmentalised basis so that fire is not meant to spread," he added.

"The advice at the moment is, if there is a fire in your own property you get out and ring 999. If you can get out safely, in that it is not affecting your side of the building,  then you should get out, use staircase not the lifts.

"But the national advice is at the minute, if it is not in your flat then you should actually remain. There are fire resistant doors the building has been treated for fire safety.

"No one could have foreseen the tragedy that happened in London. We are pro-active landlord and really concerned safety of residents."

He added: "As I have said we are fully compliant with fire and safety regulations, we work with the fire service, they actually use our buildings for training and they carry out checks alongside ourselves. We carry out regular checks and we do take those very seriously."

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