Blog posted by: Damien Robinson, Commercial Agreement Manager, Construction, 28 March 2022.
Understand the importance of fire-resistant materials in the UK construction market and discover how we can support you with our construction frameworks.
There has never been a greater focus on the use of fire-resistant materials in the UK construction market. Since the wake of Grenfell, much legislation has been enacted and, of immediate importance to the building materials industry, was the establishment of a Construction Products Regulator (CPR).
At CCS, we have taken account of this and included this legislation and anything future related into the fabric of our construction agreements. Whilst the CPR is still very much in its infancy, its establishment will transform the supply and certification of building materials over the coming years. The first real change will be the passing of the Building Safety Bill which is expected at some point this year.
Whilst we are waiting for that bill to pass, we should consider other fire risks highlighted in inspections post-Grenfell, outlined in the article Post-Grenfell Inspections. Many risks with fire resistant materials involve cladding but the problems go beyond that with incorrect compartmentation, incorrectly fitted cavity barriers, lack of fire alarms and inadequate fire protection in the building frames.
It should be remembered that residential fires remain the number one cause of fire related deaths in the UK. In light of this the UK government introduced the Fire Safety Act 2021.
What safety measures should you take when using fire- resistant materials?
Passive fire protection
This includes fire-resistant glass, fire doors, insulated walls and drywall. Whilst many see the primary purpose of fire doors as a means of escape, they are a crucial part of any building's compartmentation strategy. When reinforcing them with either intumescent strips or a cold smoke seal, valuable minutes are added to fire resistance. The range of doors typically provides additional fire-resistant time of between 30 minutes to 1 hour although longer is possible.
Insulated walls can provide excellent fire suppression and this should be investigated thoroughly before deciding on your solution. This insulation can be battens, a blanket of mineral wool, fibreglass or stone wool insulation to achieve greater passive fire protection. Many of these solutions must be included at the initial build stage.
Whilst cavity walls are widely used to control moisture and to provide insulation they also pose a fire risk if due consideration is not given to cavity barriers or insulation.
A revision of the Fire Safety: Approved Document B outlines recommendations for buildings which states a cavity within a wall is acceptable so long as the wall is closed at the top and around any openings. Consideration must be given to the fire rating of any insulation boards and fire rated cavity closers.
Spray applied fireproofing, also known as sprayed fire-resistive material (SFRM), can be used as part of a building's passive fireproofing strategy and can delay or prevent failure of steel and concrete structures exposed to high temperatures during a fire. Applied fireproofing is available as a wet or dry spray formula and can be troweled on. Modern formulas are asbestos-free.
Intumescent paints can be applied similarly and they provide between 30 to 120 minutes of fire protection depending on the specification and thickness of coatings. A large range of these paints are available via lot 4 of our Building Materials and Equipment framework, where we have leading paint suppliers in the UK.
Flooring should be considered and consideration is given to BS 6853 and BS EN 13501-1 regarding flame retardants. Vinyl flooring is good for preventing the spread of fires and reducing hazards. Our flooring suppliers can provide fire-resistant flooring for most uses including commercial, residential or even industrial.
Active fire protection
Many active fire protection measures stray into the realms of construction activities, at which point you could use either our Construction Works and Associated Services (CWAS) framework or our Facilities Management framework. Measures could be fitting sprinkler systems or other methods of suppression and ventilation.
Looking specifically at building materials, the Greater Manchester High-Rise Task Force has recently imposed interim safety measures. These measures include additional fire alarms in high-rise buildings. You may want to consider this or even install combined fire/carbon monoxide alarms.
Through lot 1 of the Construction Works and Associated Services (CWAS) framework or our Facilities Management framework, you can procure fire extinguishers and associated fire fighting equipment.
What support can our Building Materials and Equipment framework offer?
Through the 9 nine lots on our Building Materials and Equipment framework, there are many items that can be supplied, such as on lot 1, the one-stop-shop for the construction market, you can purchase the likes of spray fireproofing, fire resistant insulation, concrete, gypsum, stucco and bricks. You can also buy fire alarms and carbon dioxide monitors via lots 1 or via lot 3 - electrical products, where our specialist suppliers can sometimes add extra value.
Similarly, as mentioned above, paint can be bought via lot 1 but lot 4 gives access to the UK market leaders in paint, offering in-depth specialist knowledge.
Let us bring power to procurement
We understand that procurement can often be a complex process, particularly when finding the safety materials for your construction projects, that's why our team of experts are on hand to guide you along your construction journey.
All UK public sector bodies including NHS contracting authorities, local government, universities, charities and blue light services can use our construction frameworks.
If you would like more information, please visit our website or get in touch to discuss your requirements: