Home Cladding The role of insulation in the fire safety of buildings

The role of insulation in the fire safety of buildings

Fire safety must be factored into building construction to minimise the risk of fire spread and ensure there are adequate escape routes for occupants. So, this month Bradley Hirst, Technical Services Manager from Knauf Insulation, answers questions about fire safety and insulation.

Bradley Hirst, Technical Services Manager at Knauf Insulation.

What fire safety performance measures relate to insulation?
Fire resistance and reaction to fire are two different, but very important fire safety performance measures to be aware of when designing a building.

What is fire resistance?
Fire resistance measures how well a material or system can withstand and prevent the spread of fire. To maintain escape routes and contain the fire, building regulations state that certain load-bearing structures must provide fire resistance for a specified time period. For example, Knauf Insulation’s Fire-teK Beam and Column Slab is a Rock Mineral Wool insulation solution designed to protect load-bearing structural steel. It has a melting point of over 1,000°C and can provide up to 120 minutes fire resistance.

Remember, products that provide fire resistance are extensively tested, so always use a product designed for the application to ensure it will deliver the desired performance.

What is reaction to fire?
Reaction to fire measures how a material or system will contribute to the development and spread of fire should it occur. Euroclass reaction to fire classification gives all UKCA and CE marked materials a rating from F (easily flammable / the lowest) to A (non-combustible / the highest). It measures whether or not a material will ignite, produce smoke or flaming droplets.

Above: Knauf Insulation Rocksilk RainScreen Slab is non-combustible so is suitable for use in the external walls of relevant buildings over 18m.

All of Knauf Insulation Mineral Wool is non-combustible with the best possible Euroclass A1 or A2-s1,d0 reaction to fire classification. This means it will not contribute to the development or spread of fire should it occur. In contrast, rigid board insulation typically achieves between a B and an F Euroclass reaction to fire classification.

What are the building regulations relating to non-combustibility?
Building regulations in England and Wales ban the use of combustible insulation on the external walls of certain buildings above 18m tall (11m in Scotland). The scope of buildings covered by the regulations in England will be expanded in December 2022.

But legislation is not the only reason to use non-combustible materials. Many large architects and contractors are choosing to use non-combustible materials on their projects, such as Knauf Insulation’s Glass or Rock Mineral Wool. That’s because it’s the simplest way to minimise fire risk and give clients peace of mind about the safety of their buildings.

www.knaufinsulation.co.uk

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