Understanding the World of Fire System Testing for Compliance and Insurer-Approval
The world of fire system testing and Building Regulations can appear complex but in fact it is relatively straightforward.
For buildings under 18m, small-scale fire system testing applies under Building Regulations. However UK insurers demand more robust large-scale system testing. Crucially, the fire performance systems that meet the stringent criteria of these tests has been proven in the independently assessed Kingspan real fire case studies of the past 20 years.
For buildings over 18m, insulation materials that have been classified as “non-combustible” and of limited combustibility can be automatically deemed to comply if the outer rainscreen is Class O as per diagram 40 of Approved Document B (ADB). This allows compliance without the requirement for testing the fully assembled system despite the fact that in reality, the performance of the wall depends on the interaction of all the elements of the system (including ancillary components), the construction method of the system and the presence of cavity barriers and fire stopping.
However for buildings over 18m, Kingspan façade systems incorporating insulated panel technology must undergo large-scale fire system testing (BS 8414) and achieve the requirements set out in BR 135 to achieve compliance with ADB.
We welcome this as we believe large-scale system testing is the only way to predict performance in a real fire scenario, and that manufacturers must provide technical and field support to ensure that the as-built system performs as the as-tested system.