5 months ago

March 2018


Stone Wool BRINGING CLARITY TO FIRE SAFETY By Tim Vincent, Head of Technical at ROCKWOOL. Back in July 2017, the Government announced an independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety and a final report is expected no later than Spring 2018. As we await these findings, it’s important and helpful to establish clarity in language and definitions, specifically, the terms noncombustible and combustible and how these apply to building materials such as insulation and cladding. We can start with basic definitions. Here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say: Non-combustible: Made of material that does not burn if exposed to fire. Combustible: Able to catch fire and burn easily. But, how do these terms combustible and noncombustible relate to building materials? The European Reaction to Fire classification system (Euroclasses) is the EU harmonised standard for assessing the qualities of building materials in the event of exposure to fire. This standard is a legal requirement for CE marked construction products and relevant for both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. As the name suggests, this classification system assesses and rates the ‘reaction to fire’ performance of construction products, providing a clear and simple method for comparing the performance of products when exposed to fire. When products are tested according to the Euroclass system, a range of factors are investigated: ignitability, flame spread, heat release, smoke production and propensity for producing flaming droplets / particles. The Euroclass system is accepted by all European Union States (and is mandatory where there is a Harmonised Product Standard) and includes seven classification levels, from A1 to F. Understanding these Euroclass classifications is vitally important. The Euroclass system states that products achieving A1 classification are defined as non-combustible under these Regulations. Products achieving an A2 classification are recognised as products of limited combustibility, offering “no significant contribution to fire growth”. Products achieving a rating of B-F are deemed to be combustible. Where a product has not been measured for fire safety under the Euroclass system then it will be classed as F, meaning no performance declared (NPD). So, in short, non-combustible equals non combustible. Other terms typically used by the industry to describe product performance, such as, fire safe, fire proof, fire retardant or flame proof do not necessarily define that the product is noncombustible. “Non-combustible” is a legally defined term within the Building Regulations. So, how can you determine the Euroclass rating of a product’s combustibility? In the case of thermal insulation, all products should be CE marked against the appropriate harmonised standard. The Harmonised Product Standard for mineral wool is BS EN 13162:2012. Whichever harmonised standard is applicable, by law, all manufacturers must have their products independently tested to verify performance claims. Once a product has been CE marked, the manufacturer must make publicly available a Declaration of Performance (DoP). The DoP is a legal document in which the manufacturer identifies the product and its intended use, indicating compliance in relation to the relevant Harmonised Product Standard and performance in relation to specified “essential characteristics”. It’s in the DoP that you can determine a product’s Euroclass rating. The declared value on the DoP will match one of the Euroclasses. For ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation, you will find an A1 rating, meaning non-combustible. So, how is this information of use when considering building products? When we consider the fact that more than 95% of buildings screened and covered by the recent Government BS 8414 testing program failed to meet current fire safety standards, it’s clear that ambiguity, complexity, and confusion exists. This leaves many people asking: “is there a simple way to ensure a high rise building is compliant?” An “obvious solution” was stated by the DCLG on the 2nd August 2017 in their Advice to Landlords: “to ensure that the cladding system adequately resists external fire spread…replace the system with one where all of the elements of the wall are of limited combustibility. For example, a wall system which includes an ACM panel with limited combustibility filler (category 1) and limited combustibility insulation, such as, stone wool.“ ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation withstands temperatures of up to 1000°C and has achieved the highest possible Euroclass rating: A1 noncombustible. The Rainscreen DuoSlab, designed and manufactured specifically for this kind of application, is already an established choice within the market and installed on many high rise projects. Contact ROCKWOOL 01656 862 621 @ROCKWOOLUK 66 TC MARCH 2018

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