The Importance of Fire Safety
The safety of a building during construction and occupancy is paramount for everyone involved in the process, from architects and end users to product manufacturers and contractors. As a fire breaking out within or around a residential or commercial building has the potential for disastrous consequences such as the loss of life, fire safety is of upmost importance when considering which external cladding material to specify for the building’s facade.
This simple and explanatory guide to British Standards for fire performance discusses what the Euroclass ratings mean and how fibre cement cladding and brick facade materials measure up.
What is the EN 13501:1 Standard?
The EN 13501:1 standard, otherwise known as the Euroclass system, is the fire classification of construction and building elements, including exterior wall cladding, using data from reaction to fire tests.
The “reaction to fire” that is assessed during rigorous testing methods looks at the response of materials when exposed to fire or heat. It compares ignitability, smoke production and heat release amongst other criteria. In order to comply with EN 13501:1, products are subjected to tests including “non-combustibility test”, “heat of combustion test” and “single-burning item test”.
Fire Behaviour Rating
The first component of the Euroclass rating is the A-F classification which relates to behaviour when exposed to heat and fire.
- A1 means the product is non-combustible. This is the highest possible rating.
- A2 means the product is non-combustible.
- B means the product has a very limited contribution to fire.
- C means the product has a limited contribution to fire.
- D means the product has a medium contribution to fire
- E means the product has a high contribution to fire.
- F means the product is highly flammable with no fire performance determined. This is the lowest possible rating.
Smoke Generation and Droplet Production
In addition to the A-F rating, for classifications of A2 and lower, an “s” value is also attributed to represent the amount of smoke produced during the first 10 minutes of the product being exposed to fire.
- s1 means little or no smoke is produced.
- s2 means quite a lot of smoke is produced.
- s3 means substantial smoke is produced.
The final “d” value represents the amount of flaming droplets which are released from the product during the first 10 minutes.
- d0 means no droplets are produced.
- d1 means some droplets are produced.
- d2 means many droplets are produced.
Fibre Cement Panels Fire Rating
Fibre cement as a material will not fuel a fire within a building or ignite when exposed to flames. Under the BS EN 13501-1 standard, Wienerberger’s SVK fibre cement facade panels achieve a Euroclass fire rating of A2 s1, d0 – an industry standard for high quality, fire-resistant cladding materials.
Breaking down this classification, A2 means that the product is non-combustible, s1 signifies that little or no smoke is created, with d0 indicating that no flaming droplets or particles are produced.
Brick Tile Cladding Fire Rating
Under the BS EN 13501-1 standard, Wienerberger’s Corium brick cladding system achieves a Euroclass fire rating of A1, which means that the product is non-combustible. As A1 is the highest fire performance rating possible, this classification does not require additional ratings for smoke generation and droplet production.
It is always worth remembering that even high-quality product with the required fire rating can provide an unsafe result when installed incorrectly or with incompatible products, so it is crucial to adhere to manufacturer’s instructions.
A holistic approach to design and construction should be taken when it comes to fire safety, as every building product used on a project is a component part of a wider system that needs to be taken into consideration, regardless of building height. Specifiers should seek project specific advice regarding the use of individual products from qualified building professionals such as facade and fire engineers.
For more information about the Wienerberger Facades range, including SVK fibre cement facade panels and Corium brick tile cladding, visit www.wienerberger.co.uk
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