The Building Research Establishment has been running 100 tests a day on cladding samples from high-rise residential blocks submitted by local authorities and social housing landlords.
A nationwide check on cladding on public sector high-rise residential tower blocks was ordered by the government in the wake of the fire at Grenfell Tower in London on 14th June, in which at least 79 people were killed as fire from a Hotpoint fridge-freezer took hold and rapidly ripped right through the 24-storey building on the Lancaster West estate in north Kensington.
The government-funded testing programme is now being widened out to more building types.
Owners of student halls, hotels and other residential buildings with rainscreen cladding are being urged to take advantage of the free tests.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons: “We have asked other owners, landlords and managers of private sector residential blocks to consider their own buildings and we have made the testing facility freely available to them.
“My department is also working with the Government Property Unit to oversee checks on wider public sector buildings.”
He said that hospitals were “well prepared – each one has a tailored fire safety plan”, but additional checks have been ordered on a precautionary basis.
The Education & Skills Funding Agency is telling school authorities to carry out immediate checks to identify any buildings that require further investigation.
There are also 15 buildings within “the wider government estate” that have been identified as requiring further investigation, Mr Javid revealed.
He also said that an expert panel was being set up to advise on fire regulations.
“Building Regulations and the system for ensuring fire safety in buildings have been developed over many decades. Until the Grenfell Fire many experts would have claimed that system has served us well. But now we have witnessed a catastrophic failure, on a scale many thought impossible in 21st century Britain.
“It is clear that this failure must be understood; it must be rectified without delay, and the government is determined to ensure that happens. As an initial step I can inform the House today that I am establishing an independent expert advisory panel who will advise the government on any steps that should immediately be taken on fire safety.”