Fire safety has become an increasingly important focus for legislators in the various parliaments of the UK following the Grenfell Fire tragedy. This is especially the case for high rise buildings.
Previous deregulation and complacency around fire safety, along with the irresponsible behaviour of suppliers which put profits before people, led to a situation where combustible materials were being specified on tall buildings despite the obvious dangers.
The awful results of this have led to a renewed focus on fire safety in order to prevent similar tragedies happening again. One of the most important recommendations proposed a ban on combustible materials in the external walls of buildings above 18m (or 11m in Scotland).
Now, this new rule has come into force in Scotland, and developers will be banned from using combustible cladding on buildings over 11m high from 1st June 2022, following the introduction of new legislation in the Scottish Parliament.
The legislation states that, “since 2005, new cladding systems on high rise blocks of flats have either had to use non-combustible materials or pass a large-scale fire test. The building standards legislation removes the option of a fire test, completely prohibiting such materials from use on domestic and other high-risk buildings, such as care homes and hospitals, above 11m.
“The highest risk metal composite cladding material will be banned from any new building of any height, with replacement cladding also required to meet the new standards.”
Consequently, all materials and/or products used in the external walls of tall buildings in Scotland must be comprised of one or more dwellings are required to meet European fire classification A1.
The definition of A1 is as follows:
- A1 – Materials that cannot contribute to fire at any stage, including a fully-developed fire
To class as an A1 product, stringent tests must be passed to ensure that they are completely non-combustible in all circumstances. These include:
- BS 476-1: Fire tests on building materials and structures
- BS EN 13501-1: Fire classification of construction products and building elements
This means that developers, architects, contractors, sub-contractors and others involved in construction need to start considering the materials they are using now to stay in line with this legislation in Scotland.
The range of products which meet these standards is small, especially when it comes to external walls. The vast majority of current solutions used widely across the industry do not meet the A1 standard which is set to be required by law on buildings over 18m in height in the near future, and therefore those involved with construction are going to have to change their approach.
The new Specwall A1-rated panel is one of the few products that meets these criteria for external walls. It has come out of research and development on our existing A2-rated panel which was undertaken in response to this anticipated market need.
Key technical information about our A1 panel is as follows:
- No flammable material in the panel
- Cannot contribute to a fire at any stage
- Same weight and strength as standard A2-rated panel
- 100m depth, single-layer system
- Simple, integrated, stand-alone
- Price competitive with SFS or blockwork alternatives
For developers in Scotland, materials like this panel have crossed over from being desirable for tall buildings, to being essential.
To learn more about Specwall’s A1-rated panel, and how it can be used for your development, get in touch with our team today by clicking here.