Posted on 20/03/2024 in Building & Construction Fire Safety 2024
10 dead, 14 injured in Valencia flats fire

pinfa shares the grief of all those impacted by the devastating fire in two blocks of flats, Campanar, Valencia, 22nd February. Flames engulfed a 14-storey apartment block, and then spread and destroyed a second adjoining 10-storey block. The flats were built in 2008 by FBEX who went bankrupt in 2010. Officials are not commenting on the possible initial cause of the fire, which started from a flat around half way up the building. Some sources suggest that fire may have started with an electrical fault in an external awning motor on a balcony. Other sources suggest that the fire started inside a flat. The fire spread rapidly over the whole of the two buildings and this is attributed to strong winds and to Aluminium Composite Material cladding (ACM). ACM panels can offer high performance thermal insulation (see e.g. Bonner & Rein, 2018), but the air gap behind them can cause a chimney effect, leading to rapid fire spread if appropriate fire safety precautions are not ensured. This is the same general type of cladding which contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, London, 2017, in which 72 people died (pinfa Newsletter n°146). Fire standards for such cladding panels have been tightened following the Grenfell fire, but the Valencia flats’ panels were from before these new requirements. It is to date not clear what insulation materials were present in the ACM cladding used on this building. Spanish media indicate that such cladding can either be flame retardant or not, and that no official information is yet available concerning the panels on these buildings. The BBC and other media suggest that the panels on the building were ‘Larson’ panels from the company Alucoil, but that information is not available on whether or not they were fire safety treated.

The Spanish Rigid Polyurethane Industry states that there is no evidence that the cladding panels contained polyurethane:

The company 3A Composites (Alucobond) states that, contrary to some media reports, the panels on the building were not their products, and that, to ensure building safety, they only supply panels with flame-retardant or non-combustible cores.

BBC  “Valencia fire: Grenfell-style cladding fear after blaze”, 28 February 2024

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