Importance of Third Party Accreditation

Third party certification for fire safety products and installers now features in all regulatory documents to help manage and mitigate risk. Third party certification is evidence that a service or product adheres to specified standards. It has been assessed or tested by an independent expert (the third party) and has been certified that it complies with those standards.
 
Third party product certification provides confidence that the product is fit for purpose, is manufactured using a defined quality system and links factory production with what was tested by the fire laboratory. It is a legal requirement for the purchaser of fire safety services to ensure that the person or organisation carrying out the work is ‘competent’.
 
There are various schemes for third party certification of products, they vary slightly according to who is providing them but they consistently evaluate:
 
• Factory production control via an initial factory inspection and routine surveillance visits
 
• An appraisal of the product test and assessment evidence against a ‘technical schedule’ to ensure that the certification gives the widest scope
  of application
 
• Traceability of the product from raw material to factory to site
 
• Labelling of the product to give confidence to end-users and to assist traceability
 
Getting it wrong can be very costly through fines, legal costs, loss of property and loss of business. At CCF we can provide third party accredited systems from market leading suppliers to substantially reduce the risk.


Regulatory Reform Order
 
In October 2006 the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005 came into effect. This applies to nearly every type of non domestic building and structure.
 
Historically, there had been a variety of Acts. Two major fire safety legislation pieces being, the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997. This meant that for a large number of buildings, two separate fire safety regimes applied based on totally different approaches.
 
The Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) aimed to simplify requirements by consolidating and rationalising traditional legislation and assign responsibility to the building owner rather than the fire services. It provides a risk based approach to fire safety allowing more efficient, effective enforcement by the fire and rescue service and other enforcing authorities.
 
Non-compliance with the RRO can result in prosecution, either in fines or imprisonment.


Resistance to Fire

Building Regulations and the associated documents require elements of a building to provide minimum periods of fire resistance, expressed in minutes. This is not the property of an individual material but a measure of the overall performance of a complete system when exposed to standard heating conditions.
 
Fire resistance in local UK standards is defined in BS 476: Part 20 1987 and new European legislation will eventually replace national standard as EN1366.

Resistance to Fire Related to Three Areas:
 
• Load bearing capacity (R)
  ▸ The ability for a building element to resist a fire when supporting an external load without losing its stability. For floors, flat roofs and beams, allowable
     vertical deflection is limited to 1/20th of the clear span.
 
• Integrity (E)
  ▸ Ability for a building element to prevent the passage of flames and hot gases; resisting collapse, the occurrence of holes, gaps or breaks.
 
• Insulation (I)
  ▸ Ability for a separating element to restrict the temperature rise on the unexposed side.


Reaction to Fire

The material choice for walls and ceilings can significantly affect the spread of flame and its rate of growth. The specification of linings is particularly important in circulation spaces where rapid spread of flame is most likely to prevent occupants escaping.

The reaction-to-fire classification covers the potential for flashover, the spontaneous ignition of hot smoke, gases, and fuel that can cause a fire to spread uncontrollably.

Two other hazards encountered in fires, and therefore subject to risk assessment, are classified by s (for smoke production) and d (for flaming droplets). They relate to the quantity of smoke produced (s1 is the least; s3 is the most) and the potential for flaming droplets to fall (d0 means no droplets, d3 many droplets).
 
Non-Combustibility:
 
Surface spread of flame
 
• Class 0 compliance
  ▸ British Standards refer to Class 0 compliance. Class 0 is the spread of fire across the
     surface of a building material – what’s known as the surface spread of flame – and the non-combustibility of that surface.
 
• Euroclass harmonisation
  ▸ The Euroclass classification of building products harmonises standards of fire safety across Europe, including England, Scotland, and
     Wales. The intention is that it will replace the British Standards. The classes A1, A2, B, C, D, E, and F rank a product’s reaction to fire. The
     safest products are A1, the most dangerous are E. F is not classified.