Petrarch passes full scale fire test at the BRE in the UK and at Intertek in the US.
External cladding fires can have a devastating effect on human life, business and property. If a fire breaks out in the lower storeys of a multi storey building, breaking through windows and doors, it could spread through the cavity and break back into the higher levels of the building. This effect has the ability to spread fire rapidly and reduce the time for evacuation and escape.
These issues have been under discussion by designers and regulators for some time in both the UK and the US. Over the last year Omnis has embarked on a programme to demonstrate that PETRARCH, it’s unique reconstituted stone panel product which is produced by CEP Claddings in Hastings, has exceptional fire performance particularly when used on high rise buildings.
In the US the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 285 fire test has become the benchmark for establishing the flammability characteristics of non- loading bearing wall assemblies and has become a mandatory requirement in many states for systems used on buildings over 40ft in height. The NFPA 285 is a 30 minute test carried out on a full scale wall assembly as it would be built in the field. There is a window in the lower half of the assembly, and to pass the test the products must demonstrate limited flame spread both vertically and horizontally. This is measured visually and by using thermocouples at various points in the assembly. In 2015, Petrarch undertook and successfully completed this test at the Intertek Laboratories in York Pennsylvania – and is one of only a small number of cladding products to have achieved this.
In the UK Approved Document B (AD B) of the Building Regulations states that any product used in external wall construction in buildings with a storey height more than 18m must be of limited combustibility. Many products used in these applications are defined as combustible and it is possible to demonstrate compliance by testing the assembly to BS8414 and satisfying the performance criteria set out in BRE135. Petrarch is fully BBA approved and achieves Class 0 spread of flame, therefore it is classified as low risk. Earlier this year it was decided to test the product to BS8414 Part 2 at the world renowned British Research Establishment (BRE) in Watford and have them assess the results against BRE135. Again, this is a full scale fire test similar to the NFPA285, with an opening at the lower level and thermocouples placed at points above the opening. However, the rig is much bigger, the fire load much greater and the test lasts for 60 minutes. To pass the test the system must demonstrate that it will; not permit excessive fire spread up the outside of the building as measured visually and not exceed set temperatures at set times at the thermocouples.
Petrarch, as part of a standard assembly, passed the test according to the requirements of BRE 135 in May 2016. Its currently one of the only reconstituted stone panels to have achieved this result. These results represent a major step forward for architects and designers who are looking to use fire rated cladding panels on high rise buildings.
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