First ACM cladding passes fire tests

Aaron Morby 1 month ago
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The first aluminium composite panel cladding system has passed the Government’s fresh round of stringent fire tests in the wake of London’s Grenfell disaster.

Swansea Clyne Court, Sketty, Jefferys Court, Penlan
Bouygues high-rise refits in Swansea get the all-clear

Aluminium Composite Material using a combination of fire resistant polyethylene filler and stone wool back insulation has been cleared for use on high-rise buildings.

The system, which has been used on 13 buildings including four tower blocks in Swansea that failed initial panel tests, could offer designers and contractors an alternative on buildings deemed a fire hazard.

But the Government has also hedged its advice warning that the safe combination of cladding and insulation materials can vary between manufacturers and have different calorific values.

It is the first system of four tested so far to be deemed to comply with Building Regulations.

Three earlier tests on less fire resistant systems all failed raising questions about the safety of 206 high-rise buildings.

Cladding system tests Result 18m-plus buildings
ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler with PIR foam insulation Failed 82
ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler with mineral wool insulation Failed 111
ACM with a fire retardant polyethylene filler with PIR foam insulation Failed 13
ACM with fire retardant polyethylene filler with mineral insulation Passed 13
ACM with a limited combustibility filler with PIR foam insulation Not published N/A
ACM with a limited combustibility filler with mineral wool insulation Not published N/A

The way materials have been fitted and maintained can also affect the safety of the cladding system.

Further tests over the coming weeks will provide more information about how other systems behave in a fire, and more advice is expected to be published over the course of this month.

Also the government has asked the BRE and industry to publish the results of previous large-scale tests on ACM and other cladding systems.

This will help inform building owners’ decisions about whether remediation work is required, and if so what materials could be used as replacements.

Last month the government announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety, focussed on the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management as well as related compliance and enforcement issues.

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