A senior executive at Kingspan who made flammable insulation for Grenfell Tower said a contractor who questioned the fire safety of his product should go fuck yourself, « the public investigation into the fire heard.
Philip Heath, a technical manager for the company, also said of a contractor trying to validate what turned out to be misleading claims about the safety of its foam sheets: « If you’re not careful, we’re going to sue the ass. He also told friends that if they asked questions, they mistook him for « someone who builds a dam ». .
The angry responses to the question about the safety of the material surfaced in 2008 emails received during the investigation into the fire on Jan.. June 2017 were shown in which 72 people were killed. The investigation is now examining the manufacture, testing and sale of materials used in the refurbishment of the West London tower block.
Kingspan Kooltherm K15 was one of two types of insulation that was found to be flammable. The investigation has already learned from a former executive that the company was involved in “willful and calculated deception” in which the product was marketed without solid test evidence. Kingspan has denied wrongdoing, saying he was unaware that his material was being used on Grenfell.
Cross-examined by investigative attorney Kate Grange QC, Heath denied his tone, « reflecting a culture in Kingspan at the time, » but admitted, « It was completely unprofessional »
Kingspan sold its insulation based on tests conducted on an older version of the product that burned more slowly and emitted less heat. In 2008, Bowmer & Kirkland, a contractor, wanted to ensure the suitability of the new version for a tower called City Park.
Heath assured that the developer K15 was « classified as class 0 or low risk » and suitable for use in rain protection facades, « and it is considered to be satisfactory ». . At the time, however, the material was struggling to achieve an important level of safety. He sent in a safety certificate three years earlier for a test of a less flammable formulation of the material.
Bowmer & Kirkland was not satisfied and replied, « You did not justify … on what basis is the Kooltherm K15 suitable for buildings over 18 m? »
Heath forwarded this email to friends and said, “I think Bowmer & Kirkland is confusing me with someone who gives a dam. I’m trying to think of a way out, imagining a fire running up this tower !!!!! … !!!! Any ideas…? “
When asked by Grange why he mentioned a fire, Heath said he was trying to explain « some of the implications ». .
Shortly after Bowmer’s & Kirkland inquiry, another contractor on the same project raised concerns. Wintech complained that the material was not suitable as the planned cladding had open joints, so that « an external fire breakthrough … will be easier than the test sample ». .
When asked by Grange whether these points were « perfectly legitimate », Heath agreed. At the time, he said to his colleagues, “Wintech can fuck itself. ”
The investigation learned last week that Kingspan had threatened to take legal action against a certification body and new home guarantee agency, the NHBC, if it shares concerns about the company’s evidence to support its claims with the marketplace.
When asked why he did not take the questions seriously as they related to ‘life safety’, Heath said, ‘I think we took life safety seriously. ”
Kingspan’s sister company, Kingspan Off-Site, also asked Heath about the fire performance of K15, and he did not disclose that it had performed worse in recent tests than before. He shared with a colleague what he was saying to Kingspan off-site in an attempt to justify his use of the material and commented, « I’m spinning so much that I feel dizzy. ”
Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Kingspan Group, Building Insulation, Product, Fire Test
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