Guernsey Housing Association took on the 10-floor tower block in Charroterie about 10 years ago and did extensive upgrading, including installing Kingspan K15 insulation on the outside of the structure to make it warmer and drier.
Following the Grenfell disaster, where 72 people died in a London tower block fire in 2017, insulation has been put under the spotlight nationally. And K15 is now classed as a medium fire risk. It was low risk when Cour du Parc was refurbished.
Outgoing GHA chief executive Steve Williams said the GHA took safety very seriously.
‘We are bitterly disappointed, as we were assured in 2012 when we decided on the specification for the modernisation that the building materials we chose were fire resistant and designed for cladding high-rise buildings,’ he said.
The issue came to light last summer, when it was found the guaranteed level of fire safety had been changed to medium. A specialist consultant was brought in, who recommended the cladding was removed and replaced.
It has taken some time to determine exactly which cladding was on the building, as the Kingspan formula has changed over time, leading to various fire ratings. But now they were clear, the GHA wanted to take action.
The existing panels will be replaced with rockwool - an inert stone wool insulation. Mr Williams said they had considered using it originally, but had decided on the Kingspan as at had better insulation credentials and had the same cost and fire rating. But since the re-rating, rockwool was now safer. The material has a long track record.
‘Everybody is happy with it,’ Mr Williams said.
‘It is the product sold for this job.’
The new rockwool panels will be installed and the structure will be staying green once the work is complete.
Incoming chief executive Victoria Slade is in the process of taking over the top role from Mr Williams and has been involved with cladding change.
She said safety was a top priority and a number of safety measures were already in place. But they were making this change to make the building was safe as they could.
‘It’s belts and braces,’ she said.
‘The big issue is making sure everyone sleeps soundly in their beds [without worrying].’
Mr Williams said they have been liaising with Building Control and Guernsey Fire & Rescue.
‘The building is safe,’ he said.
‘We could have just left it, but knowing it’s medium risk, we are not happy to stay with that, as a responsible landlord.’
Resident received a hand delivered letter yesterday informing them about the work. They will not need to move out while the work takes place next spring.
Fire safety measures
Fire alarm, with an evacuation plan
A fire standard lift