Safety checks on private residential blocks – FREE Testing service for ACM panels
Following the fire at Grenfell Tower with the tragic loss of life, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are asking all landlords to check if any panels used on their housing are made of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).
The DCLG stress that “ACM cladding is not in itself dangerous but it is important that the right type is used” and that if landlords (including privately owned blocks) have identified that panels are made from ACM then the DCLG will pay for a sample to be tested.
The DCLG have set out the following protocol for sampling Aluminium Composite Material Cladding. If landlords have any queries they can contact PRShousingchecks@communities.gsi.gov.uk
“Protocol for Sampling of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding
Identification of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding
Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) is a type of flat panel that consists of two thin aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core, typically between 3 and 7mm thick. The panels can have a painted or metallic finish (eg copper or zinc effects). It can be differentiated from solid aluminium sheet by looking at a cut edge whereby the lamination is visible. It may be necessary to cut a hole in a panel if a cut edge is not readily accessible.
On buildings with a floor over 18m above ground level, where ACM panels are identified, it is necessary to establish whether the panels are of a type that complies with the Building Regulations guidance ie the core material should be a material of limited combustibility or Class A2.¹
Testing of ACM
To allow for the identification of core materials, we are putting in place Government-funded testing capacity that will allow a small sample of the cladding to be tested and its type identified. If you wish to take up this offer, then you will need to submit samples for testing.
Where the surveyor undertaking assessment of a composite panel determines that it is necessary for cladding to be subjected to laboratory screening they should follow this procedure:
- Cut out two samples of at least 250x250mm in size from each location sampled. Take photographs as necessary to identify the location of the sample. You should take samples from above and below 18m above ground level as appropriate and check different multiple panels where you have concern that material specification varies.
- Using an indelible ink pen, note the building name / number, postcode and a unique identifier (i.e. name of building owner followed by unique sample number e.g. ABC/001) traceable to the specific location within the building of each sample. Add a direct dial telephone or mobile contact number to be used in the event that there are any queries on the sample.
- You must make good by closing the hole using a non-combustible sheet such as steel fixed with self-tapping screws or rivets.
- Complete the data return form attached to this letter and include a hard copy of it with the sample. You should provide as much information as is readily available, but not if this will delay submission of samples for testing.
- Place one of the samples from each location in a padded envelope with a copy of the data return form. Clearly mark the envelope URGENT – CLADDING TEST SAMPLE.
- Send the test samples by recorded delivery or courier to:
BRE, Bucknalls Lane, Garston, Watford, Herts. WD25 9XX
For any testing related queries please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Retain the second sample from each location for your own records or for testing in the event that samples are lost or misplaced in transit. “
1 Material of Limited combustibility as described in Table A7 of Approved Document B (Vol 2) Class A2-s3,d2 or better in accordance with BS EN 13501-1