Large-Scale System Testing

Why is large-scale testing imperative to predict fire performance?

In the same way that the wheels of a car would not be tested alone in order to assess the performance of the entire car, the fire performance of a cladding system cannot be predicted based on a fire safety check of any any one component in isolation.

In reality, the fire resistance performance of a façade system depends on the interaction of all the components (including fixings, fasteners and sealants) in that system in response to a fire, and also on other design and construction factors such as the position of fire barriers, the size of ventilation gaps and more.

"We believe that for buildings with a storey over 18m and/or with public occupancy, BS 8414 large-scale fire safety system checks should underpin compliance for all façade systems regardless of insulation type."

Mark Harris, Kingspan Insulated Panels Building Technology Director

Why do some façade systems only require small-scale fire safety testing?

One route to compliance, which is underpinned by small-scale testing, involves meeting the guidance in paragraphs 12.6 to 12.9 of Approved Document B. With specific reference to Insulation Materials / Products, paragraph 12.7 states:

"In a building with a storey of 18m or more above ground level any insulation product, filler material (not including gaskets, sealants and similar), etc. used in the external wall construction should be of limited combustibility."

In addition, paragraphs 12.6, 12.8, 12.9 and Diagram 40 provide additional guidance for the surface of exernal walls and cavity barriers. In June 2017, following the tragic events at Grenfell, DCLG issued additional guidance in relation to the interpretation of paragraph 12.7. This additional information is shown on page 19 of our Building Regulation Fire Performance Requirements for Insulated Panel and Facade Systems brochure which can be downloaded here

Non-combustilibility and limited combustibility are both determined by small, bench-scale tests where small samples of materials are testing in isolation, unlike BS 8414 which tests materials within full wall system assemblies. 

Learn more below.

What is BS 8414 large-scale system testing?

The DCLG described the BS 8414 fire safety test as follows in their recent series of tests: “This involves a 9 metre high demonstration wall with a complete cladding system – including panels and insulation – fixed to it, being subjected to a fire that replicates a severe fire in a flat breaking out of a window."

It is important to note that the BR 135 guidance document - which determines the pass/fail criteria for BS 8414 - also includes guidance on fire performance design principles for external cladding systems.

Learn more about the BS 8414 large-scale system test.

Why has the insurance industry introduced its own large-scale system testing?

Insurance industry requirements for property protection within the UK has led to the development of additional large-scale system tests for reaction to fire and fire resistance.  These rigorous tests provide a good indication of how a building will behave in a fire, and the results have been backed up by independently-assessed real fire case studies involving Kingspan insulated panel systems.

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Kingspan Insulated Panel Systems Fire testing and Performance Guide 2017 brochure Image

Download our Fire Testing & Performance guide

Download this reference document for a comprehensive overview of Kingspan's tested and accredited systems, the testing regimes they are subjected to, and independently assessed real fire case studies.

Contact our Fire Engineering Services team for project or product support.

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