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Specwall explains: The importance of fire safety in buildings

Fire safety is one of the most important considerations for all projectsand should be at the forefront of your mind when planning and building your development. Fire protection systems are a legal requirement, and meeting those responsibilities includes choosing the right materials for your building.

Here, we look at the importance of fire safety in buildings, the laws and regulations that are coming in, how different wall systems fare and the advantages of the Specwall system when it comes to fire protection.

***UPDATE MAY 2022

Since publishing this blog, Specwall has developed an A1-rated, load-bearing panel which is completely non-combustible and cannot contribute to a fire at any stage, in addition to our existing A2-rated panel.

As well as going beyond safety requirements now, our A-1 rated panel will also satisfy further tightening of the fire safety regulations down the line if the government requires A1 standards for all external walls on buildings 18m tall or higher once its review is complete.

Get in touch with the team today to learn more about our A1-rated panel***

What is a fire-rated wall?

 A fire-rated wall is one which is designed to contain a fire within a room for a designated period of time. This amount of time is known as its “fire rating” – for example, a wall could be rated for one, two or more hours after fire simulation tests. Whatever the amount of time, a fire-rated wall is expected to contain flames, resist high temperatures and support its load for the duration of that time.

Fire-rated walls will be installed floor-to-ceiling and allow time to discover a fire, see it contained and evacuate the occupants of the building if necessary. Alternatively, once contained, a fire-rated wall means that a ‘defend in place’ strategy can be utilised in a building.

How does Specwall achieve our high ratings?

Specwall is A2 – S1 d0 rated and achieves high fire wall ratings thanks to its structure which is cementitious and inert. The Specwall installation process also uses specific fire-proof grouting, and the walls meet the ceiling without the need for additional fire stopping.

The solid, lightweight panels which make up the Specwall system are non-combustible – including the Specwall Core – and have passed all relevant fire testing with flying colours, going above and beyond legal requirements.

How many hours fire resistant is Specwall?

Specwall comes in two thicknesses which both have highly impressive fire ratings:

  • 75mm – 2 hour fire wall or more
  • 100mm – 4 hour fire wall or more

Overall, using Specwall allows you to build 6 metre fire walls without the need to additional support which achieve a fire rating of 4 hours or more.

Talk about changes to the law, regulations - how Specwall stays up to date with regulations

The Building Safety Bill is set to be a major legislative change for the construction sector following the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017. It is described by the government like so:

“The next step in ground-breaking reforms to give residents and homeowners more rights, powers and protections – making homes across the country safer.

“This will overhaul regulations, creating lasting generational change, setting out a clear pathway on how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained and made safe.

“It also sets out the framework to improve compliance, with tougher penalties for those who break the rules and mandates developers to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman scheme.”

Fundamentally, this bill will set out clear guidelines for how buildings are constructed, maintained and made safe, and will require a “golden thread” of information which considers safety at every part of the building’s life cycle.

One effect of this will be the strengthening of the construction products regulatory regime, with new requirements to ensure that more products are safe, and the creation of a new National Regulator for Construction Products to oversee the sector and enforce the rules.

Given the reason for the creation of the new Building Safety Regulations, fire safety is sure to be a major focus – and developers need to ensure that they are using products which can provide this. Specwall is one such product, and we make sure to stay up to date with all regulations by achieving UK and international certifications which testify to the fire stopping quality of our product among many other factors.

Can you upgrade to Specwall to improve fire ratings? How do traditional walls compare to Specwall?

Upgrading your internal wall system to Specwall panels will instantly improve your fire ratings and allow you to build a safer development. The three parts of Specwall are non-combustible, including the Specwall Core, and covered within BSEN ISO 1716 part of BSEN13501 2018. Due to this, Specwall can achieve a minimum of 2 hours or more fire rating – a rating in excess of Building Regulations. This compares favourably to plasterboard systems which are rated for just two hours.

Interested in learning more about how Specwall can improve the fire ratings on your development? Get in touch with our team today for more information by clicking here >>

 

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