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Published on 10 January 2018 12:20

ETICS Fire Safety

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Key Learning outcomes
  • Introducing the building code regulations regarding ETICS.
  • Identifying fire classification of construction products.
  • Understanding the proper installation of ETICS.
  • Recognizing the ETICS fire classes.
Fire safety is one of the most important requirements on buildings operational safety. It has lately become an issue of national awareness and lots of citizens wonder whether the buildings which they live in are appropriately fire safe. They take a closer look on building materials used in their houses and fire safety measures implemented. Generally, the fire resistance of building components and constructions are classified with Load Bearing Capacity (R), Integrity (E) and Insulation (I) characteristics. Different materials require different fire classes. This rule applies also to thermal insulation which is one of building elements and has very significant impact on the fire safety. In this article we would like to explain the regulations and requirements related to the fire safety of ETICS (External Thermal Insulation Composite System). In addition, we would like to reassure the concerned residents that certified and properly applied ETICS brings adequate fire safety for the building elevation.

1.0 Knowledge of building code regulations is essential

Fire safety of buildings can be defined in different ways, however all modern definitions are more or less the same. According to the EN 13501, buildings must be designed and constructed in such a way that in the event of fire:
• the structure load-bearing capacity is maintained for a sufficiently long period of time;
• the formation and spread of fire and smoke is limited;
• the spread of fire to adjacent buildings is limited;
• the people inside the building can safely leave the facility or be rescued;
• the safety of rescue team is taken into account.

Such stated provisions impose on architects and constructors a number of obligations regarding, among others: selection of the type of materials used and design of detailing solutions. In Great Britain, like in the most countries, fire safety regulations are closely related to height and use of facilities. Detailed information on the design solutions required for buildings of specific purpose or height is also provided in the ETICS technical specifications or certificates e.g. BBA and NSAI certificates. They include, among others, recommendations concerning conditions of use of firestops, in the form of at least 200 mm wide, continuous barrier of non-combustible material (mineral wool), on walls insulated with polystyrene.

Fire safety regulations regarding ETICS in Great Britain

In Great Britain, all four countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have their own provisions on ETICS fire safety. It is important that one abides by the applicable regional provisions as they may differ a little bit. One should refer to Building Regulations Approved Document B, 2010 when considering ETICS fire safety in England and Wales, The Scottish Regulations Technical Handbook 2015 Edition when considering ETICS fire safety in Scotland and Technical Booklet E Fire Safety - Section 5 when considering ETICS fire safety in Northern Ireland.

Currently, British and European fire tests and fire classification coexist and both can access a given ETICS in view to combustibility and ignitibility by reaction to fire tests.

European tests for ETICS contribution to fire growth are comprised of:
- EN ISO 11925-2: Single flame ignitability (SFI)
- EN 13823: Single burning item (SBI)

Tested ETICS is then classified by EN 13501-1:2002 Standard.

British tests for ETICS contribution to fire growth are comprised of:
- BS 476 - Part 6 & 7
- BS 8414 - Parts 1 & 2

The same standards are responsible for proper classification of tested ETICS.
Stainless steel fixing and fire barrier in ETICS. Source: BBA Agrément Certificate 13/5018 Product Sheet 1
Stainless steel fixing and fire barrier in ETICS. Source: BBA Agrément Certificate 13/5018 Product Sheet 1
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