Today marks six months since the deadliest blaze in modern UK history occurred at the Grenfell Tower in West London. Around the globe, the date was marked by solemn reflection. At St. Paul’s Cathedral in Central London, more than 1,500 people, including the British prime minister and royal family members, gathered to pay their respects to the dozens who died on June 14.
The Grenfell fire and the more than 70 lives it took has stirred up conversation and controversy in every corner of the world. By all accounts, the 24-story apartment building quickly went up in flames because of combustible materials that had been added to the building's exterior during a renovation project. If there are any positive outcomes from this tragedy, it's that the massive blaze cast a spotlight on combustible exterior wall assemblies, including components like cladding and insulation, and motivated AHJs to learn more about the risks associated with them.
In January, NFPA will release a new risk assessment tool for enforcers to help them determine which existing buildings in their jurisdictions are at the highest risk for fires involving combustible exterior wall assemblies. Others, including building owners, facility managers, fire safety engineers, and fire risk assessors, also stand to benefit from the tool. NFPA commissioned global engineering firm Arup—assisted by Jensen Hughes—to develop the technical methodology that will inform the tool. Technical input was also gathered from experts in Asia and the Middle East—areas that had experienced major fires in these types of buildings before Grenfell— as well as Europe, the United States, and other regions.