Insurance Industry Fire Testing

Why have insurers developed their own large-scale fire testing?

Audi Dealership Fire
Insurance industry requirements within the UK has led to the development of additional large-scale reaction to fire and fire resistance tests. The primary focus of these tests is asset protection.

These robust large-scale system tests provide an excellent indication of how a building will behave in a fire. In the many years that Kingspan Insulated Panels has been providing insurer-approved systems to the UK market, there have been very few fires. Those that have occurred have been independently assessed and found to have performed as expected based on the test results. To learn more, read our  real case studies.

Overview of Insurance Industry large-scale fire tests?

In the UK the loss prevention certification board (known as the LPCB) has specific fire insurance requirements.

Embedded within LPCB you can find the relevant test standards:

  1. LPS1181-1 for exterior walls and roofs
  2. LPS 1181 part 2 for Interior walls and ceilings
  3. And LPS 1208 for external walls and internal walls and ceilings.

LPS 1208 focuses on various periods of fire resistance, whereas LPS1181-1+2 focuses on reaction to fire tests and can also make provision for a period of fire resistance.

Whilst LPCB is well known and accepted within the UK, it is far less well known on the world stage. FM Global, on the other hand, is a worldwide insurance and risk management enterprise. Part of FM Global, FM Approvals is an international third-party testing and certification services. They test property loss prevention products and services, for use in commercial and industrial facilities, to verify that they meet rigorous loss prevention standards of quality, technical integrity and performance.

The FM APPROVED mark is recognised and respected worldwide. Their certification instils confidence and commands respect in the global marketplace.

The most popular standards are: FM 4880, FM 4881, FM 4882 and FM 4471. Each of these standards deals with different panel applications.

  • FM 4880 is an approval standard for Class 1 Fire Rating of Building Panels or Interior Finish Materials. It deals with internal applications only.
  • FM 4881 is an approval standard for Class 1 Exterior Wall Systems.
  • FM 4882 is an approval standard for smoke sensitive occupancies.
  • And FM 4471 is an approval standard for Class 1 Roof Panels.

About LPCB LPS 1181 Part 1: Requirements and tests for built up cladding and sandwich panel systems for use as the external envelope of buildings

The configuration of this test is a ‘garage’ test consisting of a structure that is 10m by 4.5m wide and 3m high. The test is designed to measure fire spread, and is very suitable for low, medium and high-rise buildings.

A large wooden crib sits on a steel table inside the garage test. 1.5m from the centre of the crib lies a vertical redline on both adjoining walls and ceiling. This demonstrates horizontal flame spread. A failure point occurs should flames spread horizontally past the red lines. 

There are thermocouples embedded within the insulation core of the insulated panel and on the external surface measuring temperature. The temperature must not exceed certain thresholds in order to pass the test. Those thresholds are set within the test standard.

 

About LPCB LPS 1181-2; Large scale internal wall and ceiling test.

Fire test

LPS 1181 part 2 is a large scale, internal wall and ceiling test, designed to measure fire spread.

It’s different to LPS 1181 Part 1 as it’s free standing without steel supports.

The pictures on the left below show the test strip before and after the test. Before the test, you can see that, similar to LPS 1181 part 1, there’s a large wooden crib which sits on the table.

There are horizontal flames spread failure points indicated with the vertical red lines and thermocouples are embedded within the core of the insulation and attached to the external face.

After the test you can see in the bottom left picture that the fire damage was highly contained to the region of the fire source. The hybrid insulation core of the insulated panels resisted flame spread and propagation.

The picture below shows the intensity of the fire given off from the fire rig.

About Approval Standard FM 4880 and FM 4881

Within the suite of FM testing, applicable to FM 4880/4881 is the 50 foot corner test. The two wings/walls are 50 feet high, and 20 feet in width. A horizontal red line is marked on the systems which indicates a fire spread failure point. 344kg of dry oak makes up the fire ignition source.

Similar to other reaction to fire tests, there are also thermocouples embedded within the insulation and used on the test rig.

Based on the performance of the insulated panel system the following classifications can be achieved:

- Class 1 with no height restriction;
- Class 1 to a 50ft max height;
- Class 1 to a 30ft max height.

The UBC 26-3 Room test is also applicable for FM 4880/4881. This is essentially a room test with a wooden crib in the corner of the room, measuring flame spread and fire propagation.

The 50ft corner test shown below forms part of assessment requirements for approval to Class 1 Internal wall and ceiling panels with no height restriction (FM 4880) and external walls with no height restriction (FM 4881).


Photos of Set Up, Development and End of Test in an FM 4880/FM 4881 testing.

  

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