Is your timber fire classification report fit for purpose?

Under the Construction, Design and Management Regulations 2007, in the event of a building fire, and any deaths caused, a court of law will want to know how fire protection systems were selected and whether there was adequate liaison between all the parties involved in making sure that the protection was appropriate.

Timber is our most versatile construction material and its upgrading by fire retardant treatments allows it to be used safely in a wide range of applications. These treatments must now meet the requirements of either Euroclass B or C of the new European Standard EN 13501-1 to comply with both national Building Standards and the Constructive Products Directive. But how can you be sure that your fire retardant treated timbers are fully compliant? By using suppliers that have independent species specific Classification Reports.

Some suppliers of fire retardant treatments are using non-specific reports and potentially putting lives at risk. They are only undertaking testing of their products and treatments to generic references, which will not always ensure an effective protection when specific timber species and component designs and end uses are taken into account.

Janet Murrell, Technical Manager of Warrington Certification Ltd, one of the leading independent fire testing and certification bodies, explained: ‘In our experience the fire performance of wood and wood based panels is highly species specific, with different species requiring different chemical retentions to derive the same level of fire protection. Classification Reports supplied by treatment companies therefore must be species specific and reports that include generic terms such as ‘softwood’ and ‘plywood’ should be seriously questioned.’

Andrew Hughes, Technical Director for Arch Timber Protection and Chairman of the UK Wood Protection Association (WPA) fire retardant committee commented: ‘A first step for any specification of fire retardant treated timbers should be a reference to the WPA check list which gives general guidance. However, independent and species specific Classification Reports are a must to give real peace of mind. These should cover four particular requirements: the timber species; the thickness of the timber; whether there will be an air gap behind the timber; and the nature of any backing materials. It is a duty of care for both specifiers and building control officers to demand this proof.’

‘All Arch Timber Protection fire testing is done through independent certification organisations. We have invested in Classification Reports for a wide range of species and thicknesses, and to match a number of different end uses. These, together with our ISO 9001 accredited treatment facilities -make sure our customers are getting exactly what they expect from our proven Dricon and Non-Com Exterior fire retardant treatments.”

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