Published : 2021-01-13

Impact of Grenfell Tower fire disaster on polyisocyanurate industry


The paper summarizes commonly available information on the fire of the Grenfell Tower, which took place in Central London on 14 June 2017. The fire was very similar in its nature to several other spectacular fires at tall buildings, which have happened around the world since 1999 but unlike the previous one, the London fire claimed an enormous number of victims – 71. The tragic outcome of the fire was blamed on a combination of several human and natural factors: faulty evacuation procedures, unsuitable fire extinguishing equipment, mistakes by the housing association managing the building, lacking fire safety provisions in the tower, weather, confusing building regulations, etc. However it was established that the main reason for so tragic an outcome of this fire was the speed of fire spread via decorative aluminum composite materials (ACM) containing polyethylene (PE), installed on the outer of a building as a part of a rain-screen cladding system. The other part of the system was polyisocyanurate (PIR) thermal insulation. The paper focuses on the role of PIR in this fire and a couple of practices in the PIR industry highlighted by the tragedy. It reflects on the origin of PIR and evolution of PIR technologies as well as PIR definition. Finally it reports on a bottom-up initiative started at the Polyurethanes 2017 Conference aiming at changing current attitude of the European thermal insulation industry to Open Access to reports on fire testing of thermal insulation products. This small but concerted effort of scientific and industrial thermal insulation communities has a good chance of helping to drive further improvement of fire resistance of thermal insulation and to restore public confidence in these important materials.





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Mitchener, G. (2021). Impact of Grenfell Tower fire disaster on polyisocyanurate industry. Polimery, 63(10), 716-722.