Cladding Concerns: Answering Your Questions

Since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, there have been many questions as to the part the Insulation Cladding had to play in the rapid spread of the fire.

This has caused alarm throughout the industry as to the “rating” of the existing Cladding, that may have been in place for many years.

While the Fire Service state that “most buildings have good fire safety measures”. It would seem that the building Insulation Cladding has been an area that has been typically “overlooked”.

The Welsh Government in regular contact with the UK Government

[endif]--Officials have said that the Welsh Government was in regular contact with the UK Government following last week's announcement that an expert panel would consider whether certain panels "could therefore remain on a building under certain approved circumstances". Meaning that the Cladding Panels would be assessed and included in the building's overall Fire Risk Assessment.

Fire Risk Assessment

It is, therefore, important that the rating of the Cladding Panels installed on a particular building is ascertained to complete such a Risk Assessment and ensure that Cladding is correctly factored into the Fire Risk Assessment.

How to Assess & Rate the Cladding?

Documentation has found to be lacking when assessing the rating of the Cladding Panels. To correctly test and Fire Rate an existing Cladding System a small 300mm x 300mm sample of the Cladding needs to be subjected to a destructive bank of Fire Tests, the material is literally subjected to the conditions experienced during a fire such as the tragic Grenfell Tower disaster. Only then can the true nature of the cladding material be assessed and rated under these real conditions.

What Do I Need to Supply?

Clients need to supply a representative sample of their existing cladding, O&M manual, installation paperwork, and any guidelines provided regarding the suitability of the solution which was provided at the time of installation. The more information you are able to provide about the cladding, the more complete the report will be.

How Can I Collect the Cladding?

Insightuk can arrange an engineer to collect cladding either at ground height or using height safety equipment. Insightuk can liaise with its supplier base to source replacement cladding for the area removed to your colour and thickness specification.

What Test Do I Need?

Insightuk can advise on the varying standards of testing practice. The government standard test is BS EN 1716:2010. However, labs also test to BS 1814 for fire performance of external cladding systems; and, to satisfy the performance requirements set out in BR 135 fire performance of external thermal insulation for walls of multi-storey buildings. It is recommended testing to the UK government standard.

Other testing standards include:

LPS 1181:2003: Part 2 - Requirements and tests for wall and ceiling lining systems for use as internal systems in buildings.

BS 476 : Part 4 : 1970 "Fire Tests on Building Materials and Structures. Noncombustibility test for Materials".

BS 476: Part 11: 1982 "Fire Tests on Building Materials and Structures. Method for assessing the heat emission from building materials".

BS 476-15:1993 Part 15: Method for measuring the rate of heat release of products (ISO 5660-1:1993)

BS 476 :Part 22 : 1987 "Fire Tests on Building Materials and Structures. Method for the Determination of the Fire Resistance of Non-load-bearing Elements of Construction".

BS EN 13501-1:2002 "Fire classification of construction products and building elements- Part 1: Classification using data from reaction to fire tests"

BS EN 13823:2002 "Reaction to fire tests for building products excluding flooring, "thermal attack by single burning item"

BS EN ISO 1182: 2002 "Reaction to fire tests for building products-Non-combustibility test”

Each standard stipulates the test, performance, and set-up requirements for composite cladding products including sandwich panels and built-up systems for compliance with the LPC Design Guide for the Fire Protection of Buildings (2000). It is appropriate for the claddings (built up systems or sandwich panels) used for the protection of all types of non-domestic buildings.

Composite cladding constructions that require grading shall be subjected to the requirements of the standard. For life safety they shall achieve a fire resistance of at least 30 minutes with respect to integrity and 15 minutes with respect to insulation for building regulations (any part 1000mm or more from the relevant boundary).

To ensure that the maximum field of application is allowed, the testing laboratory will recommend to follow the most updated version of the British Standard which was followed in the testing of the product according to the O&M manual or the government standard test if no information is available to ensure that the correct configuration of elements is tested and additional measurements such as deflection are recorded.

Based on the measurements, photographs and video taken by the laboratory, the assessor will check compliance with the criteria. They shall examine the temperature recorded during the test and also the surface temperature readings to ensure similar conditions to other tests.

Will I Get My Cladding Back?

No. The test sample will be destroyed in the test. Insightuk can arrange a replacement to your exacting specification and install it for you.

How Long Will Testing Take?

The average turnaround is three weeks including quotation, collection, testing, and reporting.

Want to Know More?

Contact an Insightuk representative today on 0333 800 6060 or email the Insightuk contract team for more information.


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