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Without prejudging any investigation, the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower has highlighted the problem with some insulation panels.

However, they are not just an issue with high rise flats. ‘Composite or sandwich’ panels were extensively used in industrial buildings during the 1980/90s, with an insulating core sandwiched between an outer skin (usually aluminium). The problem was that the insulating material was so flammable it could burn ferociously within the outer skin and spread throughout a building in minutes. Unless lives were at risk or the fire could spread to other buildings, the fire brigade could do little more than let the fire burnout.

Later on, panels were manufactured with non-flammable insulation, but many buildings still have old panels and are effectively tinder boxes. Insurers will cover them, however, they place onerous conditions on the maintenance of the panels.

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