Statement regarding cladding used on Oxford's tower blocks

Published: Friday, 16th June 2017

The following statement is a response to specific questions from residents about the type of cladding and insulation used on Oxford City Council's five tower blocks.

Stephen Clarke, Oxford City Council's Head of Housing and Property Services, said: “We’d like to reassure our tower block residents once again that we have gone above and beyond legal requirements to introduce more and better fire safety measures into our five tower blocks as part of our £20 million improvements. These include sprinkler systems, new fire doors, and fire breaks between floors in our fire-resistant cladding.

"We can confirm that our cladding system and insulation are of different types and specifications to that reported by the BBC as having been used in Grenfell tower in London.

"The cladding system in Evenlode, Windrush and Hockmore towers is Vitrobond, an aluminium composite, while Foresters and Plowman will use the Euroclad Opus aluminium system, which is a folded only aluminium panel. The insulation behind the cladding on all the towers will be Rockwool Duo slab.

"Concerning their fire resistance, both cladding systems are Class O rated and are to all current standards while the insulation is fire-resistant and Euroclass A1-rated. The cladding was chosen because the contractor and the Council’s professional advisors recommended the systems as being fit for purpose.

"We have installed intumescent horizontal fire breaks at each floor level within the external insulation to the first three blocks and are continuing with installation to the remaining ones. This will expand on the detection of flame and fill the 50mm void between the cladding and the insulation.

"We’ve only had a single incident of fire inside a flat reported since the refurbishment, which happened on the 31st of May in Windrush Tower. In that incident, the electric wall heater was turned on and it produced smoke and then tripped out.

"On inspection we found plastic toys and paper in the heater, which most likely melted and started to smoke, triggering the alarm in the flat. Flat alarms are for tenants to report to the fire service and follow fire safety guidance. Smoke and fire detection alarms to the communal areas automatically go through to the Fire and Rescue Service."

For more general information about the substantial fire safety improvements that are being made as part of the City Council's £20m refurbishment of its tower blocks, please see our previous statement.