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Spandrel panels are a common feature of many buildings around the world. Their presence is often cited as a measure to prevent vertical fire spread from storey-to-storey. With a focus on the UK's building regulatory system, this paper charts the introduction of the spandrel panel into local building regulations. It is shown how research activities in the mid twentieth century led to a suggestion that the spandrel panel was not an effective means by which to mitigate storey-to-storey fire spread. Combined with the work of Margaret Law on unprotected areas, this led the UK national building regulations to omit the spandrel panel and, in effect, admit defeat with regard to preventing storey-to-storey fire spread via openings in the external wall. The implications of this for modern UK buildings with phased evacuation or ‘stay put’ strategies are profound. If storey-to-storey fire spread is to be assumed, how should the fire safety strategy be reformulated to account for this? Or if the prevention of storey-to-storey fire spread is, in fact, an objective – what is the mechanism for doing this in the future?