The Fire Brigades Union has said it will fight for the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to be renationalised.
The commitment came in the form of a motion passed at the union’s annual conference.
In the union’s view, BRE’s private ownership has led to failures of competency, and it claims that the BRE is "going too far to please the corporate clients whose products it tested and whom it relied on for income".
The BRE is involved in the testing and certification of materials for the construction industry. It was responsible for testing several of the key materials used in Grenfell Tower’s refurbishment, including cladding and insulation materials, and fire safety tests. BRE was privatised in 1997, and continues to test building materials as a private company today.
In the motion the union describes this privatisation as a “disastrous decision, opening the testing regime to commercial pressures and commercial interests”, and says that renationalisation would “ensure greater accountability, including a clear obligation to act in the public interest and without pressure from business and commercial interest”.
In its submissions to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry the union has previously expressed the view that "errors and oversights at the BRE contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire, and that BRE testing allowed manufacturing companies to persuade others that their products were regulation-compliant, and that these errors and oversights were caused at least in part by the BRE being privately owned".
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Building Research Establishment private ownership has been a complete disaster. Corners have been cut and building safety compromised as the BRE bowed down to the building material companies which pay its wages. There is even information that suggests that BRE failures may have had a role in Grenfell. It’s time to end this utter mess now.”