The exterior aluminum cladding with flammable polyethylene core used on the Grenfell Tower in London is banned in the US on buildings taller than 40 feet.
The cladding is suspected of being the main factor in creating an inferno that killed at least 79 people in the residential tower. The plastic-and-aluminum panels on Grenfell Tower were reportedly also involved in three catastrophic fires in Dubai. Reports suggest it would have cost an additional £5,000 (about $6,300) for contractors to apply a fire-resistant version of the cladding to the building.
Other factors including the gap between the wall and the rain screen, which could have created a chimney effect and sped flames and smoke up the building’s exterior; ineffectual fire alarms; a lack of sprinklers; and just a single fire stairway instead of multiple ones have been suspected of contributing to the high loss of life.
Thousands of residential high rises across the U.K. are expected to undergo urgent safety reviews as a result of the tragedy.