Industry awaits verdict as cladding fire tests completed

Aaron Morby 4 years ago
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The Government has pledged to set out clear advice on the use of high-rise cladding systems after completing seven large-scale fire tests on popular aluminium composite cladding systems.

ACM with a limited combustibility filler (A2) with mineral wool insulation passes BRE fire test
ACM with a limited combustibility filler (A2) with mineral wool insulation passes BRE fire test

Until this is published, building owners are being left in limbo despite four cladding systems failing the BRE testing regime needed to demonstrate compliance with Building Regulation fire performance.

So far 228 residential buildings over 18m have been identified to be fitted with cladding systems that fail performance tests.

But with the results all in, designers and contractors are warning that manufacturers’ descriptions of the performance of materials could still create confusion.

A cladding industry source said: “These results must be welcomed because they bring some clarity to what systems comply with Building Regulation requirements.

“But the use of the terminology used by manufacturers around combustibility of fillers used in aluminium cladding needs to be addressed to end market confusion.”

Cladding system tests Result 18m-plus buildings
ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler (PE) with PIR foam insulation Failed 82
ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler (PE) with mineral wool insulation Failed 111
ACM with a fire retardant polyethylene filler (FR) with PIR foam insulation Failed 13
ACM with fire retardant polyethylene filler (FR) and phenolic foam insulation Failed 22
ACM with fire retardant polyethylene filler (FR) with mineral insulation Passed 13
ACM with a limited combustibility filler (A2) with PIR foam insulation Passed 0
ACM with a limited combustibility filler (A2) with mineral wool insulation Passed 0

The final test involving the least combustible combination of components passed the latest fire test as expected.

This involved a wall cladding system consisting of ACM cladding with a limited combustibility filler (A2) in combination with stone (mineral) wool insulation.

Announcing the result, the Government advisory panel said that this combination of materials were compliant when installed and maintained properly.

A statement said: “While government has not been informed of any tall buildings over 18 metres in England using this particular combination of materials in their wall system, it could offer a possible solution for some buildings with other cladding systems which have been identified as a fire hazard through previous large-scale tests.

“The clear advice from the expert panel remains that building owners need to continue to take professional advice regarding remedial work that takes into account the specific circumstances of their building.”

It added: “The purpose of this testing programme is to develop a better understanding of how different types of cladding panels behave with different types of insulation in a fire.

“This is so building owners and their professional advisors can make informed decisions. Results of all seven large-scale tests are available and government will shortly publish consolidated advice to landlords based on all the seven tests.”

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