Fire performance of construction products and systems has come under even closer scrutiny in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The English and devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland committed to reforming four key areas of building fire regulations: introducing more effective regulations and accountability; clearer guidance; prioritising residents and working with the industry to drive change.

 

This information is intended to draw attention to the current regulations, including the recent amendments. This is, however, our understanding. Sika Limited would always recommend this information and compliance with any requirement is checked by the responsible person such as the project Fire Safety Officer and or Fire Engineer.

By Dean Grady, Product Manager, Sika Roofing

Photo: Dean Grady, Product Manager

Single Ply Membranes

Regulation changes

Currently, combustible insulation is banned in certain instances. This applies to properties more than 18m in England; 11m in Scotland, and 10m in Wales and includes residential buildings, student accommodation, care homes, sheltered housing, hospitals, and dormitories in boarding schools. It also affects upstands in roofs of any roof, when linked to a façade, which also need to utilise non-combustible material. Insulation installed on a balcony, when attached to the aforementioned building types, also needs to be of a non-combustible material, e.g. mineral wool. 

Clear direction has yet to be given regarding the installation of PV and solar solutions in Part B of the regulations. However, insurers are certainly focusing on this building aspect. It could mean current proposals relating to solar details will stipulate the installation of non-combustible materials at a lower-level.

 

Abutments

A roof abutment more than 150mm in height could well be deemed part of the wall, if, for example, it  is located within a space forming part of the wall to an adjacent building  (if the building height/type is as previously stated).  This could also apply to any part of a roof pitched at an angle of more than 70 degrees to the horizontal, if the area of the roof adjoins a space that is accessible to those tasked with carrying out repairs.

 

Solution 

So, what is the solution for insulation, when it needs to be non-combustible? Well, Sikatherm MW DD insulation is now available, which is A1 class to EN13501-1… that's ‘non –combustible’ in layman's terms. This product is held in stock  and sold it by the m2. In addition, Sikatherm MW DD can be delivered on a wide range of vehicles, in a short time-frame. This makes for efficiencies for all parties. Whilst Sika Limited can and will raise issues relating to building fire safety, we can only be guided by industry recommendations.

 

For the new fire regulations to work, they must be enforced with the utmost voracity. In her post-Grenfell review of fire safety in buildings, Dame Judith Hackitt found that indifference and ignorance had led to a "race to the bottom" in building safety practices.  Such crass disregard for construction standards must never again pervade our industry, because as the horrendous fire event of 2017 proved – the lives of the people we build for are in our hands.

 

This information is intended to draw attention to the current regulations, including the recent amendments. This is however our understanding, Sika Limited would always recommend this information and compliance with any requirement is checked by the responsible person such as the project Fire Safety Officer and or Fire Engineer.