An updated British Board of Agrément (BBA) certificate issued for Reynobond 55 cladding was “materially wrong”, after the BBA struggled to obtain information from manufacturer Arconic about the product.
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry yesterday (15 March) heard from Valentina Amoroso, a former project manager at the BBA, who liaised with Arconic ahead of the updated certificate’s publication in 2015.
Amoroso took over work conducting the review from a colleague in November 2014, after the certificate became due for a review earlier that year.
Amoroso’s predecessor attempted to contact Arconic several times over email from October 2013 until May 2014 when Claude Wehrle, a technical manager at the France-based firm, responded.
However, neither Amoroso’s predecessor nor Amoroso herself were able to get the information they needed from Arconic. In January 2015, Amoroso finally emailed Arconic to tell the company that it would proceed with its review “with the information already in hands”.
Asked what she meant by information already “in hands”, Amoroso said: “Information that were publicly available”, which included information available on the Arconic website.
Amoroso accepted that this meant the BBA was going ahead without confirmation of any “changes in the design, specification, context of use or other details that would invalidate the certificate”.
Asked if she felt this was a “risky” approach, Amoroso agreed that it was.
The BBA’s original certificate for Reynobond 55 was issued in January 2008 and stated that in relation to the Building Regulations for reaction to fire, the panels “may be regarded as having a Class 0 surface in England and Wales, and a ‘low risk’ material in Scotland.”
The certificate was based on a 2005 fire test of the product, which expired five years later. But Amoroso was unaware that Arconic had done fresh tests and obtained a fresh classifications that had downgraded the classification that had been stated in the BBA report.
In February 2011, Arconic did European tests of Reynobond PE in rivet form and achieved a class B. Then in October 2011, it did a European test of the cassette variant, which obtained only class E. More tests were done at the end of 2013 and in January 2014, a classification report showed that Reynobond in either form, cassette or rivet, was class E.
Amoroso confirmed she had “no idea” about these tests. Asked why not, she said: “Requesting new test data was not part of the formal request for a review, so we did not ask formally the client to supply the test data, and likewise the client did not willingly supply those test data to us, so there was no way for us to know that there were any new test data, effectively.”
Amoroso said she expected Arconic to tell the BBA of the new tests, test data, and classification reports.
She agreed that there was a “major gap” in the information being sought by the BBA and that the certificate had become “materially wrong”.
Inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick asked Amoroso why the BBA could not have written to Arconic saying: “Unless we get the information we’ve asked for, we shall not be issuing a review certificate.”
Amoroso replied: “At the time, the only occasions where this would happen were in the cases where the certificate holder would deny access to the factory, in effect, making it impossible to access the factory and do surveillance visit, but because in this specific case we were not set up to do surveillances, we didn’t have any reason to believe that they wouldn’t allow us to the factory. Therefore, that one reason that would have led us to suspend the certificate was not in place.”
The Inquiry continues.