Fire expert “ANYTHING will burn in govt #cladding test set-up” #Grenfell (video)

Fire-safety expert Arnold Tarling has been in high demand – and taken to the nation’s hearts – since his TV interview in which he broke down as he described warning authorities about the risk of high-rise fires and of being woken at 4am with news of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire.

Fire-safety expert Arnold Tarling

Tarling spoke exclusively to the SKWAWKBOX a few days after the fire and described the UK’s fire-safety testing regime as a ‘sham’ – and today he spoke again to this blog to expose the government’s ‘100 a day’ testing of cladding from high-rise buildings around the country as also a sham – of a very different kind:

The government is using completely the wrong type of test on the cladding material. It’s the type of test you use to find out how many calories are in an item of food! It has no relevance whatever to the kind of setting the panels will be used in and almost any material will fail it.

It’s called a ‘bomb calorimeter‘ test – you grind up a sample of the material, which will increase flammability anyway, then put it into a pressure vessel, add water and then force oxygen into the vessel until you increase the pressure to thirty atmospheres, that’s four times the pressure a human being can survive.

In that environment, things that won’t normally burn become flammable – it’s basically the perfect environment for something to burn. But it’s quick to set up and carry out and you can do it on a table top.

To test properly with the standard BR135 test takes a a week or more like two to set up per test. You build a test-construction with the panels in situ and burn them from bottom to top.

To test cladding from 600 buildings would take twelve years. Even if you build compartmentalised test set-ups so you can test multiple samples at once and do the same at more than one location, you’re talking a year or more’s work. The government’s ‘100 a day’ is not feasible.

The video below shows how bomb calorimetry is carried out. It doesn’t take much to see how completely unsuitable it is:

Even using a faster but incorrect test, the government has not achieved anything like 100 tests a day. But it’s now clear that, in their eagerness to be seen to do something, anything to avert public anger, the Tories have lurched from one extreme to the other.

From doing nothing to doing the wrong thing, creating what might be a huge number of ‘false positives’ – and the risk of spending vast sums of money on unnecessary evacuations and refits, not to mention distress and discomfort.

This incompetence risks burdening councils with costs they can ill afford in an environment of 40% cuts to local government funding, in order to solve problems where they don’t exist.

Again the country is suffering the consequences of Tory weakness, chaos and incompetence – and those buildings genuinely at risk might be missed or lead to catastrophe while the government wastes time and money on phantoms caused by applying a completely inappropriate test.

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  1. More than that – this “test” then spreads the blame to lots of different regions, some controlled by Labour and going back many years, to muddy the waters in terms of the clear and particular culpability of Tory confrolled Kensington and Chelsea. I don’t think this is incompetence – it’s politics.

  2. Whilst it’s always risky to disagree with an expert, it would appear that the bomb calorimeter test is at least one part of the testing regime to establish the combustibility of building materials.

    I’ve got no idea what most of the technical stuff means but this:


    shows that EN ISO 1716 is one of the tests used to establish whether materials meet the A2 standard, and ISO 1716 is the bomb calorimeter test.

    1. What’s your point here Hindson , whist you start with the caveat it’s risky to disagree with an expert you then go on in a obscure way to do just that.
      So OK where is your proof that the Govt are using and actually carrying out these additional test that you allude to , what research have you done, whom have you spoken to in believable authority that will go on record to back up what you infer .Where is your incontrovertible proof , come on , practice what you preach on so many other of your questionable comments made here on this blog.

      1. I didn’t mean to imply that any additional tests were being carried out. Apologies if my post reads like that.

        The BRE/government are testing solely in accordance with ISO 1716 as referenced here:


        and ISO 1716 is the bomb calorimeter test, which Mr Tarling and the article say is a completely unsuitable test.

        But the ISO 1716 test is one part of the international standard set of tests to establish the class A2 combustibility standard as referenced in Appendix A here:


        So it would appear that the bomb calorimeter test does have at least a part to play in assessing combustibility, contrary to what is said in the article.

  3. This is exactly my comment on that last architects article. Many of these “in site test” have been done in Europe and else where. It’s the combination of panels + Insulation + fire walls as a system that needs certification.
    I still maintain
    1) A fridge freezer would not have caused this
    2) The the panels with polythene core do not burn in a way that would spread a fire. Certainly not like we saw in Grenfell. Once the source of heat is removed the panels would extinguish themselves.
    3) Nobody is talking about the insulation used. We know the one specified was non combustible. But it did give off toxic clouds of black smoke. I just can’t see the polythene heating this material enough for it to release the smoke. Especially after the source, fridge fire, was extinguished. As reported by fire brigade.
    4) This “chimney effect” a) fire walls prevent this b) windows prevent it.
    5) from videos the fire spread up decorative triangular columns. Along facade and on corners of tower. How on Earth did the fire spread horizontally? And downwards?
    6) just about every flat was fiercely burning. Very little smoke ( during the night) but what was burning? Blue and purple flames. Bursts of orange flames. When water applied nothing happened in fact it looked like it made it worse
    5) One or two hoses operating on site. Eventually a platform hose reaches further up. The firefighters ability to mount a huge assault was finished by Johnson but Khan has been equally as complacent. Smoke inhalation no longer counts as death by fire

    The whole situation is being investigated by teams from 9/11 disaster. Khan has appointed them. One of the most unlawful things that they did was to remove all evidence before any investigation could take place. It was all done by hidden secretive clandestine means.
    This is what is happening now.

  4. Shared this and related posts on, had a query raised regarding Arnold’s timely appearance/connections to support Lord Porter’s attempts to “…divert blame from local authorities. Porter is the leader of the Local Government Association and is trying to divert attention/blame from Kensington and Chelsea.”

  5. Just shows that Tories are applying the Shock Doctrine to the Grenfell fire to be rid of council tenants in high value inner city housing, to be banished to outer suburbs. The inner city plots are already being flogged off and more social housing lost.

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