Read the information below and watch the video to learn more about fire resistance. Don't forget to test you've understood everything by taking the short quiz afterwards.
What is Fire Resistance?
Fire resistance is the property of a material (such as insulation) or assembly to withstand fire and continue to perform its given function and/or provide containment of a fire for a specified period of time. Thus, when this concept is applied to elements such as insulation in walls and floors etc., these building elements must resist the fire itself and keep the fire from spreading.
Each element has its own fire resistance properties, regardless of the reaction to fire classification.
Once a contained building fire has reached the point of flashover you need to rely on building elements, including insulation or insulated panels, with high fire resistance properties to protect the rest of the building from fire spread. Therefore, with regards to fire safety, the building elements must maintain their integrity and act as a partition to contain flames, smoke and heat to the original compartment.
How is Fire Resistance Classified?
Fire resistance is classified through the European Standard BS EN 13501-2.
Both built-up systems containing insulation board and insulated panel systems with high-fire resistance properties can help to contain the fire through two key elements:
- Integrity, referred to as E in BS EN 13501-2, is the ability to withstand fire exposure on one side whilst stopping the passage of flames and hot gases through to the unexposed side for a period of time.
- With the addition of Insulation, referred to as I in BS EN 13501-2, the building element will also be able to stop the passage of heat through to the unexposed side. The period of time certified for insulation is the time it takes to produce an average increase in temperature of 140°C above the initial temperature or an increase in temperature at one point of 180°C above the initial temperature on the unexposed side of the system. This rise in temperature is measured with multiple thermocouples, which are monitored carefully during the test.
You may see fire resistance, following European Standard BS EN 13501-2, referred to as a combination of letters with a normalised duration of time. For example, a wall system with EI60 will provide certified integrity (E) and insulation (I) performance for 60 minutes.
Different factors, such as jurisdiction and application, determine the level of fire resistance required by different building regulations.