In the light of Grenfell, BBC East Inside Out shows frightening footage of smoke spreading in new-build homes
PUBLISHED: 13:18 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:32 04 September 2018
Watch the terrifying speed with which smoke fills a new-build home in Norfolk - the footage has been shown on BBC East Inside Out which has investigating fire safety in the region’s new homes.
Horrifying footage reveals how quickly fire could spread in two recently-built homes in the region, including a block of flats in Norwich.
Fire safety and building regulations are in the spotlight following the 2017 Grenfell Fire disaster which resulted in more than 70 deaths, and BBC Inside Out East on iPlayer investigates two housing developments to reveal some shocking results.
The programme investigates fire safety in recently built homes following Grenfell: fire safety expert Arnold Tarling believes developers are failing to follow building guidelines which could be putting home owners at risk.
In a block of flats in Norwich, Mr Tarling and Inside Out presenter Jo Taylor watch as an air flow test shows that there is an unsealed air path between the loft and the kitchen. Air is able to travel via an unsealed opening around a pipe in the roof, and out from under the kitchen units.
Mr Tarling is also concerned that a partition wall in the loft area has apparently not been completely finished, which he says could allow smoke to travel between the common parts of the building and the loft. Home owner Adam reveals that he’d already noticed the wall and contacted the developers but says he was told, “it’s fine, don’t worry about it”.
The programme also features a three-storey Colchester house being tested for air flow by a team of experts - smoke is pumped through the house to see where air could be travelling through hidden voids.
Mr Tarling reveals that he raised concerns about the use of cladding on tower blocks years before the Grenfell fire. Seven out of ten fires start in kitchens and guidance states the spread of smoke should be restricted with sealants. But there’s no clear rule about how this should be done and a review of building regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire, has shown there is a lack of clarity in how they should be followed.
Building guidelines are open to interpretation and do not set out any mandatory practice and the developers say both homes fully comply with all building regulations and guidance, including in relation to air tightness.
BBC Inside Out team contacted the industry body, the Homebuilders Federation, who say that energy efficiency tests can’t be applied to fire safety standards and doing so could lead to unnecessary worry for home owners. They also say that new homes are built to ever more exacting standards and subject to a rigorous inspection and sign off process.
* This episode of Inside Out is now available on BBC iPlayer.