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Flying the Flag for Safety

Hamlett Films mostly works with educational organisations. But recently we had an unusual request from Britain’s largest private supplier of cladding for buildings, Vivalda.


The CEO, Peter Johnson, approached us following the award-winning film “Grenfell Tower and Social Murder”.


“For thirty years I’ve watched people’s eyes glaze over when I tell them what I do,” he comments. “When done properly my industry can create safe homes, reduce energy consumption and provide elegant environments. But post Grenfell the reaction is different.”


On 14th June 2017 a fire broke out shortly before 1am in Grenfell Tower flats in North Kensington, London. It was the worst UK residential fire since WW2.


Peter was devastated to understand that the industry he had committed to could be responsible for these deaths. Vivalda was not involved, but he still realised the need to set the record straight.


After Peter had begun to look into the causes of Grenfell he became determined to expose the truth and try to make a change to the industry. He decided to commission a film on the subject to tell the truth behind the headlines.


Peter explains, the film conveys that “the composite cladding panels on the building had been blamed and rightly so. However, the insulation which lay beneath was of a foam which has been described as “stacking petrol vertically. That insulation should have been fireproof, but it wasn’t.”


The market is so disparate, there are a lot of competing products out there but there’s no market cohesion, no generic safety standards. The film exposes how leaseholders are trapped in unsafe flats they can’t sell. The training needed and industry cohesion to move beyond Grenfell simply hasn’t materialised five years after the tragedy.


However, the problems of Grenfell have been copied across the country, causing widespread misery and potential for further deaths. From the Lakanal fire in 2009 with six deaths, to Grenfell in 2017 with 72 deaths. The lessons are clear, but nothing has changed from within the industry, or from the Government. How many more Grenfell’s need to happen before the position changes?


But as Vivalda’s new film, Behind the Facade, begins to reach trader conferences and industry events, the idea of one small voice beginning a sensible conversation from within the industry seems a very good place to start. Committed to bringing about change, Peter Johnson is offering the film to educational courses for free to educate the next generation in the construction industry and to disrupt a marketplace resistant to change.


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