Approved Document B: Revised

News: APPROVED DOCUMENT B – REVISED

IFSA is pleased to advise that the latest version of the Guidance in Support of Building Regulations in respect of fire safety – Approved Document B, was published early in March. The first change is quite significant; it is the Approved Document B for England! After decades of England being extricably linked with Wales in the Regulatory sense, devolution is now very much in evidence.

The industry became aware during 2012 that Wales had taken a tougher line over the use of domestic sprinklers in housing than we had in England, primarily because their devolved status allowed them to do so, but the publication of the 2013 Approved Document ‘B’ highlights how the two regions are departing in their principles.

The main objective of the Approved Document for England is, of course, to enable easy adoption of the new European Construction Product Regulations; the CPR, which has to be implemented this Summer (2013). A by-product of this is that the Appendix A to Approved Document ‘B’ has had to acknowledge the existence and the need to adopt EN testing procedures in order to enable the adoption of the CE mark, when it is able to be granted, as demanded by CPR.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to remove the term ‘fire-stopping’ in favour of ‘service penetration seals’ or ‘linear gap seals’ was lost and so, despite having bespoke European test procedures for these functions, we will continue to propagate the principle of ‘bunging-up holes with muck’. As a consequence, B3 continues to reference cementicious and gypsum based materials as being suitable for fire-stopping, despite their obvious inadequacies in many applications. Hopefully, the fire risk assessors, as a result of their auditing role under the Regulatory Reform Order, identify clearly where they consider that Approved Document ‘B’ listed materials are not able to contain fire to satisfactory ‘safe’ levels. To do this, the assessor will need to receive ongoing training in respect of fire sealing solutions if they are to have the necessary competence in accordance with the Competency Councils’ guidance.

The AD’B’ was not the only revision made this month as the Approved Document to Regulation 7, covering Materials and Workmanship was heavily re-worked. CE marking of products is identified as a major way of establishing the fitness of materials for purpose.

All manufacturers, installers and specifiers are urged to read this often neglected document.

IFSA Staying Ahead of the CE Marking Deadline

News: IFSA STAYING AHEAD OF THE CE MARKING DEADLINE

IFSA wants its Members to be at the forefront of the industry when it comes to the implementation of the CPR (Construction Product Regulations) and the associated requirement to apply the CE mark, when it is implemented in July 2013.

To this end, it held a second Workshop on behalf of its Members to review the current state of play in respect of the hurdles which have to be overcome by manufacturers and factors if they are to meet the CPR objectives by the beginning of July. The process leading to CE marking and compliance with the CPR are anything but clear and every forum held to clarify the situation, either from a European perspective, or nationally, gives out a different message. Certainly, the national regulators, or regulatory guidance, are not helping to clarify what is expected from the fire protection industry after this date and the industry is being left to find its own solutions.

The IFSA Workshop was a forum where the Members shared the information which they had gleaned from reading, or from meetings and seminars held by related Associations and it soon became obvious that IFSA Members were among the best informed as to what the future direction should be. The Workshop reviewed the current status of EN product standards (hEN’s) and the European technical approvals that are critical to the CE marking process. IFSA plotted a route map for its Members so that individual companies and the associated IFSA committees can contribute to the completion of any documents which were identified as barriers to the completion of the process. Once these barriers have been removed, the IFSA Members will be amongst the first to be able to offer CE marked products across Europe.

ISO TR 10295: Part 3 – Going Forward for Publication

News: ISO TR 10295: Part 3 – Going Forward for Publication

Approximately 10 years ago, IFSA realised that whilst the EN Fire Resistance test for penetration sealing materials was a good harmonised tool for comparing product A with product B under identical pan-European conditions, the test only generated a pass/fail result. The standard configurations given in the test procedure were very complex (and, hence, expensive to perform) but failed to generate data which characterised the product and its mechanism of performance in a manner that could be used to establish the interpolation and extrapolation of the result. The performance of a sealing system is interdependent on many factors; the width of the gap around the service, the depth of the sealant, the conductivity of the penetrating service, the thermal inertia and perimeter length of the service (similar to the Hp/A used for steelwork protection) and the thermal characteristics of the supporting construction and these all influence the duration for which the penetration could be sealed.

The test standard EN 1363-1 test failed to generate data that could be used to calculate how one result can be applied to a different arrangement of service and/or penetration opening and this prompted the IFSA/ISO representatives to hold a brainstorming system (Paul Baxter & Peter Jackman) to come up with a more quantifiable method of test. By utilising well selected, simulated services and penetration with well-defined dimensions, it was possible to generate a known relationship between the conductor characteristics and the wall/floor construction. IFSA Technical Committee then developed a new test method that allowed a performance to be generated linking these together. This draft was submitted to ISO TC92/SC2/WG6 and has evolved, during the intervening years and via numerous drafts, to eventual submission for comment and voting to the national standards’ bodies of the ISO member states, e.g. Japan, Korea, USA, Canada, Hungary, UK etc., to reach publication stage as an ISO TR (Technical Report). This Autumn’s meeting in San Antonio saw the standard (ISO TR 10295: Part 3) finally go forward for publication.

Whilst the Technical Report has no direct application to the CEN member states in the context of CE marking, the method will allow International Certification bodies to derive field of application reports in a co-ordinated and harmonised manner and, hopefully, with a greater relationship to ‘real-fire’ behaviour than the CEN tests would allow.

It was ironic that after nurturing the new test procedure from the very first conceptual draft, Paul Baxter, IFSA’s nominated expert on the ISO penetration sealing committee, was not present in the USA to see the final act due to inadequacies in the UK’s funding position. However, IFSA was well represented at the meeting by Ian Bradley of AkzoNobel, one of the Association’s recent recruits, who ensured that the draft went through to the final sage without a hitch!

Another IFSA First!!!

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Press Release – The Regulatory Reform Order

News: IFSA Press Release – The Regulatory Reform Order

The Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) which caused the introduction of new risk based fire safety controls as of October 1st 2006 has changed the way in which we achieve safe premises in a very important way. Prior to this date, most buildings that were occupied for commercial purposes operated under a Fire Certificate issued under the Fire Precautions Act of 1971, which was audited occasionally by the Fire Service to ensure compliance with the Certificate requirements. This Fire Certificate carried with it a ‘statutory bar’ that prevented any premises owner from having to upgrade his properties solely because primary legislation or its guidance had changed. The major change in adopting a risk based fire safety strategy is that the statutory bar has now been broken. A Risk Assessor will make up his or her own mind as to whether the building is safe in the way it is being used and will not necessarily be guided by compliance with the Codes that were in existence when the building was first approved.

This means that the Risk Assessor has to be certain that people will evacuate the building safely should there be a fire event. Up until now these Risk Assessors have been provided with very little information as to how fire doors, penetration seals, and fire resisting glazing influences the tenability of the protected spaces in that building and how they should be assessed. These components are critical if one is to ensure the life safety of persons in and around the building.

For the first time ever the Intumescent Fire Seals Association (IFSA) has produced Guidance Notes solely for use by any Risk Assessor working under the RRO to enable him/her to come to a rational decision as to whether the construction being audited compromises life safety or not. Risk Assessors would not have appreciated that a fire resisting door that was incorporated when the building was turned into its current use, possibly in the late 1970’s, early 80’s would probably only achieve half of it’s recommended fire resistance if it were to be adjudged by today’s standards. Similarly, the impact of smoke production or smoke leakage has never fully been able to be quantified by a Risk Assessor.

The new IFSA Guides, Technical Communiqués 1, 2 & 3 gives the Risk Assessor guidance on the role that door seals, penetration seals and glazing play in the overall fire safety principles. It can be seen that these products do ensure tenability of the spaces in a building during a fire event and if wrongly specified people, not just property are at serious risk. These Technical Communiqués are free and downloadable from the IFSA website – www.ifsa.org.uk. Alternatively, please contact the Secretariat for a printed copy of these Guides as they will make a valuable contribution to any Risk Assessors’ tool box of reference material;

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