Understanding Fire Retardancy

Understanding Fire Retardancy

Fire protection for your building begins at the planning stage. However, minimising fire risk – particularly in places with a heavy footfall and large crowds such as sporting arenas, mass transit terminals, hospitals, schools, and high-rise buildings – has become increasingly complex and challenging.

There days architects and building owners across the globe are required to meet stringent regulations aimed at protecting inhabitants and visitors as well as the building structure and surrounding environment from fire hazards. Whatever regulations are in place, it is incredibly important to choose the right grade of fire retardant materials to minimise the risk to life and damage to the building structure.

Using the right kind of products is key. We have taken the utmost care in choosing the right grade of Fire Retardant (FR) Aluminium Composite Materials (ACM) so as to mitigate the risk caused by fire.

It is important to understand the difference between Fire Rating and Fire Retardancy. Any product can have some degree of Fire Rating – but that does not necessarily make it Fire Retardant. Usually, products and systems have a certain reaction to fire and a resistance to fire. It is essential to look at both these aspects and the factors that influence the performance of a Fire Retardant cladding solution in totality, not in isolation.

The performance criteria are:

  • Lateral and Vertical spread of fire
  • Smoke emission
  • Droplets
  • Self-extinction of fire on the ACM

It is essential to choose the right product and system in terms of performance in case of fire – but it is equally important to specify the right test methodology and standards to ensure selection of a ‘true’ Fire Retardant panel.

Ideally, the right test methodology should be a combination of a product test like EN 13501-1 along with an intermediate-scale multi-story test like NFPA 285 or BS 8414, which addresses most of the key performance criteria mentioned above.

A true Fire Retardant ACM should have:

  • Recommended mix and density of non- combustible content in the core (not less than 70%).
  • Appropriate certifications from a credible third party authority (not sufficient to have mere test reports from samples provided by the applicant).
  • Should be fixed using the recommended systems.