Intervention comes after Building revealed several sites have been selling product with outdated brochures
UPDATE on 8 April 2021: All five websites concerned have now corrected their mistakes.
Kingspan has said it is “concerned” websites have been selling one of its combustible insulation products installed on Grenfell Tower with inaccurate fire ratings.
Yesterday Building revealed five UK-based websites had been selling the firm’s K15 insulation, using out of date brochures and datasheets.
Two of the websites, Insulation Superstore and Building Materials, have since corrected the mistake – but, as of this morning, three are still selling the product with inaccurate information.
The Irish materials firm said it was working to address the issues raised although it pointed out that websites selling its product with inaccurate information was “outside of our direct control”.
A spokesperson for the firm added: “We are concerned to hear that outdated K15 literature with incorrect information is still being hosted on third-party websites.
“We are confident that all our product information is now up to date and correct for K15 and for all our other products, and we are committed to supporting our customers in any way we can to ensure that they are linking their websites to our website product pages to ensure that the information is always up to date and correct.”
The firm said it was “fully supportive” of the Code for Construction Product Information, a document drawn up by the Construction Product Association’s Marketing Integrity Group, due to be introduced later this year, which aims to ensure accurate product information.
The spokesperson added the firm’s work to align itself with the code included “processes for addressing the potential risk of third-parties not updating their websites with the latest product information, and we will recommend best practice for third-parties, but unfortunately this is outside of our direct control”.
One of the websites, Insulation Superstore, was using a brochure to sell K15 which was a decade old and stated the product was safe to use on buildings above 18m, despite this being in breach of fire regulations since 2019.
The website has since corrected the mistake, adding it was reviewing its processes “so that this oversight is not repeated”.
Another website, Building Materials, described K15 as achieving the outdated Class 0 fire rating and linked customers to an out of date brochure from September 2019.
Its managing director Philip Lidgerton issued an “unreserved” apology for the mistake and said customers who had purchased the insulation while the inaccurate information was displayed had been contacted and advised on the discrepancy.
But three more websites, Just Insulation, Roofing Outlet and Loft and Insulation, have still not corrected the mistake, advertising the K15 product with claims that it achieves the Class 0 rating.
The Grenfell Inquiry has already heard that Kingspan was able to claim K15 achieved Class 0 because of a loophole in Approved Document B of the building regulations in England and Wales which stated that this rating could be met if the surface of a composite product achieved Class 0 under testing.
Using this interpretation, Kingspan was able to market K15 as Class 0 despite only the foil facer of the product meeting the rating.
Tests of the whole K15 product, not just the foil facer, carried out by Kingspan prior to the Grenfell Tower fire failed to achieve Class 0 and the latest brochures for the product no longer describe K15 as achieving Class 0.
In October last year, Kingspan withdrew a 2005 British Research Establishment test report of K15 after admitting the product it had been selling on the market for nearly 15 years was different to what had been tested.
When this newer version of K15 was tested in 2007, it turned the test rig into a “raging inferno” and had to be extinguished by the Building Research Establishment out of fears that it would endanger the testing laboratory, according to evidence heard at the Grenfell Inquiry.
K15 was never specified for the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower but was found to be included in the cladding system after the fire.
The first phase of the inquiry concluded that the insulation products included in the cladding added as part of its refurbishment “more likely than not” contributed to the rapid spread of flames up the side of the tower.
There is no suggestion that Kingspan’s current practices or products are contrary to law or in any way breach building regulations.
The Class 0 rating was formerly used in the UK as the minimum standard for materials to be used above 18m but has since been dismissed as unreliable and has not been included in the building regulations since 2019.
Update on 8 April 2021: Just Insulation director Darroch Moon said that the website’s description of K15 having a Class 0 rating was a “mistake on my part”.