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Fire Academy 2018-11-05T07:28:24+00:00

FIRE ACADEMY

In this academy we will describe and explain the in and outs of European Fire Standards for interior walls and ceilings and how these relate to Gustafs solutions. We will also compare the difference between Gustafs products getting their reaction to fire performance from a non-combustible core material, with products for which the reaction to fire has been improved by adding fire retardants.

Fire Safety in Buildings

Fire safety in buildings is one of the basic requirements for construction products in the EU Construction Products Regulation, CPR. Fire safety in buildings primarily concerns personal safety, but also includes the protection of material values. Data from fire accidents indicates that smoke and toxic gases cause the majority of deaths. Smoke and toxic gases kill long before the temperature has risen or flames have developed. Consequently, the main design requirement from a personal safety perspective is that buildings are constructed and configured to ensure that people can get to safety and the emergency services have the capacity to respond in the event of a fire.

Why We at Gustafs Are Hot on Fire Safety

Fires accidents do happen. In Europe, thousands of people get killed by fire related accidents every year.  See the International Fire Death Rate Trends in the pdf below.

Gustafs panels achieve classification: A2-s1,d0

Fire Safety in Buildings

Fire safety in buildings is one of the basic requirements for construction products in the EU Construction Products Regulation, CPR. Fire safety in buildings primarily concerns personal safety, but also includes the protection of material values. Data from fire accidents indicates that smoke and toxic gases cause the majority of deaths. Smoke and toxic gases kill long before the temperature has risen or flames have developed. Consequently, the main design requirement from a personal safety perspective is that buildings are constructed and configured to ensure that people can get to safety and the emergency services have the capacity to respond in the event of a fire.

Why We at Gustafs Are Hot on Fire Safety

Fires accidents do happen. In Europe, Thousands of people get killed by fire related accidents every year. See the International Fire Death Rate Trends in the pdf below.

Fire Academy - Stages of a fire

The Development of a Room Fire in 5 Stages

Incipient Stage: This is the first stage in the fire growth process, typically created by an outside heating source, such as an open flame or smoldering materials.

Growth stage: During this stage, the fire grows fast or slow, depending on the fuel load present, type of combustion and availability of oxygen.

Flashover stage: This is a transitional stage that takes place between the growth and fully developed stages. Flashover is a phenomenon created by thermal instabilities within the room.

Fully developed stage: During this stage the fire has reached its maximum potential and is only limited by the availability of oxygen.

Decay stage: During this final stage the fuel load and oxygen decreases and the gases and temperatures begin to cool. The fire will begin to put itself out if left alone and no more oxygen is introduced in to the room.

Fire academy with fire diagram

The Development of a Room Fire in 5 Stages

Incipient Stage: This is the first stage in the fire growth process, typically created by an outside heating source, such as an open flame or smoldering materials.

Growth stage: During this stage, the fire grows fast or slow, depending on the fuel load present, type of combustion and availability of oxygen.

Flashover stage: This is a transitional stage that takes place between the growth and fully developed stages. Flashover is a phenomenon created by thermal instabilities within the room.

Fully developed stage: During this stage the fire has reached its maximum potential and is only limited by the availability of oxygen.

Decay stage: During this final stage the fuel load and oxygen decreases and the gases and temperatures begin to cool. The fire will begin to put itself out if left alone and no more oxygen is introduced in to the room.

REACTION TO FIRE

The European classification system for fire protection was approved in the year 2001 with the EN 13501 series of standards. It establishes uniform Europe-wide requirements for fire protection in order to facilitate the unrestricted trade of construction products throughout Europe. The former national test standards for the reaction to fire of materials have been replaced by this new European classification system.

Reaction to fire tests

Reaction to fire testing methods are designed to simulate the incipient and growth phases of a fire. The purpose is to evaluate how products and materials contribute to the early stages of a fire in terms of:

  • Ignitability
  • Flame spread
  • Heat release
  • Smoke production
  • Occurrence of flaming droplets/particles

European standards for interiors

Wall and Ceiling claddings used in public rooms must only make a small contribution to the fire development and to the production of smoke, meaning that normally minimum Euroclass B-s1,d0 is required.

  1. Reaction to fire, standard EN 13501-1 Construction products, including walls and ceilings
  2. Reaction to fire, standard EN 13501-1 Floorings

European standards for exteriors

For outdoor building elements like façade claddings, the same reaction to fire standard (EN 13501-1) is used, but alternative specific façade standards are available and valid in some of the countries belonging to the European community. In for example the Scandinavian countries such a specific façade standard is “SP FIRE 105”.

TESTS TO DETERMINE REACTION TO FIRE CLASSIFICATIONS ACCORDING TO 13501-1

The following 2 tests are conducted for the classification of building products (i.e. wood-based materials) according to EN 13501-1.

Test to determine reaction to fire Euroclass

Test method EN ISO 11925-2

Inflammability of building products with direct exposure to flames.

Test method EN 13823 to determine reaction to fire, Euroclass

Test method EN 13823.

Thermal load from a single burning object.

Fire classification for wood based materials

CLASSIFICATIONS FOR WOOD-BASED MATERIALS

Plywood, OSB and Chipboards not improved by fire retardants will have a reaction to fire classification as stated in the table above.

Classifications for Euroclass reaction to fire

REACTION TO FIRE CLASSIFICATIONS

The reaction to fire of construction and building materials, is divided into 7 classes (Euroclass A1, A2 and B through F). Class B-s1,d0 is normally the minimum requirement for public rooms. The actual trend is that more and more European countries start to require the A2-s1,d0 class for wall and ceilings in buildings with many floors, rooms for large crowds and escape routes, including the elevator and stairway sectors.

Fire classifications for Gustafs products

GUSTAFS PRODUCTS ARE CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO THE TABLE ABOVE

The classifications are including the additional surface layer, surface finish, eventual acoustic perorations and the installation construction. In other cases the “core class” is shown.

RESISTANCE TO FIRE

Roofs, walls, floors, ceilings and even construction systems, including ventilation ducts and pipes must be classified based on their fire resistance. Fire properties are tested in a full-scale furnace using a standard fire curve for temperature/chronological development. The test results are obtained in the form of a time stamp which shows how many minutes the structural element resists the fire before the threshold for each test criterion is exceeded.

European standards for interiors

Walls and ceilings must not break and collapse during the early stages of the fire when evacuation and rescue operations can still be carried out.1.

  1. Resistance to fire, standard EN 13501-2 Construction products, including walls and ceiling
  2. Resistance to fire, standard EN 1366 Thermal insulations for linear pipes

The resistance to fire of products improved with FR Lacquers and FR Paints

The FR lacquer or paint in its self cannot achieve an approved resistance to fire classification. FR coatings will require an additional and specific substrate to reach any resistance to fire class at all. Only the type of substrate as specified in the test protocol can be validated. FR coatings require a very strict production control program to guarantee that the correct number of layers and minimum thickness has been used in the application of the fire retardant lacquer or paint. Applying a FR coating on site or improving a FR coating after for example cutting or drilling on site can not be validated and classified!

RESISTANCE TO FIRE – EN 13501-2

The European standard EN 13501 Part 2 for the resistance to fire of construction and building materials, is divided into several classes showing the resistance time.

RESISTANCE TO FIRE CLASSIFICATIONS

European standard EN 13501 Resistance to fire

GUSTAFS PRODUCTS ARE CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO THE TABLE BELOW

Fire Classification Resistance to fire

REAL FIRE SAFETY

To fulfill the official fire regulations, the following 4 issues must be taken in regard.

Fire classification must include decorative panel surfaces

1. A valid fire classification must include the decorative surface layer.

Gustafs products are always tested and classified as they are used in real life, including the decorative surface, like a wooden veneer, an HPL or CPL laminate. Some other suppliers claim to sell a fire rated board to which a surface material can be added. But the added surface material will drop the fire rating of the whole product to a “non-accepted” level.

The fire class must include the surface treatment

2. A valid fire classification must include the surface finish/treatment.

Gustafs products are always tested and classified as the are used in real life, including the final surface treatment like a lacquer, paint, oil or stain. Some other suppliers claim to sell a fire rated board to which a surface finish can be added. But the added surface treatment will drop the fire rating of the whole product to a “non-accepted” level.

Micro perforated panel with Contineous pattern

3. A valid fire classification must include the installation construction.

Gustafs products are always tested and classified as the are used in real life, including the installation with information about the fixing system, the air void, open or closed joints, etc. Some other suppliers will sell solutions with fire classifications related to the raw material board only, a board that has not been tested as finally installed and by that not confirm the practiced installation.

Perforated wooden panels from gustafs are tested for fire classification

4. A valid fire classification must including factory post treatments (on-site post-treatments can not be classified at all)

Gustafs products are always tested and classified as the are used in real life, including for example the acoustic perforations or when we cut core materials into Linear solutions. Once again, it is always the final Gustafs solution that has been classified. Some other suppliers will sell solutions with fire classifications for the raw material board, without the acoustic perforations included in the actual test, or having tested the material sawn into Linear Ribs.

NON-COMBUSTIBLE WOOD?

Can a wooden product achieve the reaction to fire class “non-combustible A2-s1,d0”?

– No it cannot, because wood is an organic and flammable material.

But compared to the A1 classification, the non-combustible classification A2-s1,d0 allows a content of a very low and restricted calorific value, measured in MJ/kg or MJ/m². A non-combustible fibre gypsum core plus a thin surface layer, for example a real wood veneer, can still can achieve classification A2-s1,d0.

That’s why Gustafs Acoustic Panels reach the non-combustible class A2-s1,d0, for the whole product, including the wooden veneer and finish.

NON-COMBUSTIBLE WOOD

NON-COMBUSTIBLE WOOD?

Can a wooden product achieve the reaction to fire class “non-combustible A2-s1,d0”?

– No it cannot, because wood is an organic and flammable material.

But compared to the A1 classification, the non-combustible classification A2-s1,d0 allows a content of a very low and restricted calorific value, measured in MJ/kg or MJ/m². A non-combustible fibre gypsum core plus a thin surface layer, for example a real wood veneer, can still can achieve classification A2-s1,d0.

That’s why Gustafs Acoustic Panels reach the non-combustible class A2-s1,d0, for the whole product, including the wooden veneer and finish.

CE marking and the Declaration of Performance (DoP)

For building elements it is not enough to provide a test report showing the reaction to fire classification according to EN 13501-1. As a part of the CE marking, the reaction to fire classification must be declared in a Declaration of Performance (DoP), all according to a specific harmonized standard. For Gustafs products the standard for reprocessed gypsum boards is applied (standard EN 14190:2014).

Control Systems

In the DoP it must be stated if the constancy of performance of the construction product has been validated by a self declaration (system 3) or a third party declaration (system 1). See Annex V of the standard N 14190:2014.

  • System 1: The certificate of constancy of performance is issued by a notified product certification body, based on factory production control and further testing of samples taken at the factory. The EN 13501-1 fire tests must be made by a third party.
  • System 3: The certificate of constancy of performance is issued by the manufacturer, based on factory production control and further testing of samples taken at the factory. The EN 13501-1 fire tests must be made by a third party.

Regarding the performance Reaction to Fire, table ZA.2 in standard EN 14190:2014 regulates for the building products if the DoP must be validated by control system 1 or 3.

  • Validation by System 1 is required for all products for which the Reaction to Fire has been improved by adding fire retardants (impregnations and lacquers).
  • Validation by System 3 is used for all products for which the Reaction to Fire is not a result of adding fire retardants (impregnations and lacquers).
  • On site: Post treatments on site, like improving the reaction to fire by FR coatings cannot be CE marked.

What you should know about Fire Retardants

Before using products improved with FR Impregnations or FR Lacquers, instead of products who get their fire retardant performance form their composition including a non-combustible core material, please take the following 4 issues in regard.

Fire retardant impregnation

1. Fire retardant impregnations might not reach the inner core of the material

To improve the Reaction to Fire of a board by an impregnation with a fire retardant is one thing, but to impregnate 100% of the core material is difficult, especially when it comes to dense wood species or plywood. Regarding plywood, the glue in-between the cross layered veneers is a 100% barrier for the impregnation fluid. There is only a limited number of producers who  can supply a proper FR impregnation of dense wood species and/or Plywood materials, as these production methods require special skills.

When the FR impregnation is not done correctly, acoustic panels with thousands of holes per square meter or Linear Ribs produced from FR impregnated boards can expose non FR impregnated material, and by that material not improved to the required reaction to fire classification. Please note that MDF cannot be vacuum impregnated.

Fire lacquer for impregnated wood

2. Fire retardant lacquers protect the outer layer of the material only

Fire retardant lacquers only protect the surface and not the core of a panel or a rib. For acoustic panels, the FR lacquer should be added after perforating thousands of holes per m², but still the lacquer will never properly cover the inside if the acoustic holes, resulting in a finally non-approved solution. Additional lacquering with FR lacquers on the building site, for example after cutting operations, can not be validated and not be included in a Declaration of Performance. When acoustic panels are installed with a void, also the backside of the panels must be FR lacquered.

Fire retardant lacquers need to be applied in relatively thick layers to achieve the approved protection and in combination with the fact that FR lacquers must contain salts, they can not be 100% clear, resulting in a aesthetically non attractive product.

Fire retardant salts are hygroscopic

3. Fire retardant salts are hygroscopic

The chemical salts in FR impregnations and FR lacquers are hygroscopic and can lose their fire retardant performance in environments with a high relative humidity. Do you dare to use an eventually non-lasting fire protection?

Due to the hygroscopic properties of FR Chemicals (among them ammoniac and diammonium phosphate), they can cause negative effects on our environment when leaking out. These effects are similar to overfertilization. It has also been found out that flame retardants could migrate out of the products and into people, a process for which the increased risk for cancer is still discussed by science.

DoP Control System 1 vs Control System 3

4. Control System 1 vs Control System 3

The fact that the DoP for products impregnated or lacquered with fire retardants require a more strict production control under system 1, indicates that this type of production is less reliable when it comes to it’s protecting performance compared to products with a non-combustible core for which “only” a less strict production control under system 3 is required.

A fire classification including the installation construction

The reaction to fire of Gustafs solutions comes from their composition with a non-combustible core material and the final classification includes the surface layer, the surface finish and the installation construction. No added chemicals.

Contineous perforated pattern on acoustic wooden panel
Concealed installation for wooden ribs

How would you start a bonfire?

Gustafs Linear System (GLS) has been tested as a linear system

For a Linear System it is really hard to reach the reaction to fire class B-s1,d0. The simple reason is the same as for a bonfire – chopped wood burns better!

By using a non-combustible core material Gustafs has succeeded to create a linear system that achieves a real and reliable B-s1,d0 class, including the veneer, the surface finish, the installation construction and a description of the rib and spacing dimensions. GLS can be installed with an acoustic air void or filled with a mineral absorber.

Linear System it is really hard to reach the reaction to fire class B-s1,d0

How would you start a bonfire?

Gustafs Linear System (GLS) has been tested as a linear system

For a Linear System it is really hard to reach the reaction to fire class B-s1,d0. The simple reason is the same as for a bonfire – chopped wood burns better!

By using a non-combustible core material Gustafs has succeeded to create a linear system that achieves a real and reliable B-s1,d0 class, including the veneer, the surface finish, the installation construction and a description of the rib and spacing dimensions. GLS can be installed with an acoustic air void or filled with a mineral absorber.

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