FPA aims to speed up tests for cladding systems


The Fire Protection Association has opened up its research and experimental test rigs in Moreton for commercial use due to concerns about lack of market capacity and to speed up the UK testing process

In response to the recent Government announcement restricting the assessment of external wall cladding systems, the Fire Protection Association has opened up its research and experimental test rigs in Moreton to conduct full scale 8414 with immediate effect.

Building control bodies have been told to only accept external cladding systems that either contain only insulation products and filler materials of limited combustibility or comply with the performance as currently specified in the BS8414 test.

Whilst the FPA welcomes this move, it is concerned about the lack of testing capacity in the UK which could result in restricted availability and delay in the approval of building plans.

Experimental research conducted by the FPA and sponsored by the ABI in response to the Grenfell Tower fire highlighted concerns with the 8414 test which led to the current review being undertaken by the BSI. As a result, the FPA built two test rigs at its Fire Experimental Unit in Gloucestershire.

The decision to fully open these for commercial use has been taken as a result of concerns about the lack of capacity in this market and it is hoped this will speed up the UK testing process. In addition, they have also built a half-sized rig that can be used for appraising bespoke features, for example, the addition of a window or other opening to closely replicate a real-life situation.

The FPA aims to have test reports completed and with its clients within two weeks of the test.

Jonathan O’Neill, Managing Director of the FPA said: “The FPA have recently been instrumental in guiding research in the testing of external cladding systems and the use of non-combustible materials.

“In order to help facilitate a change the FPA have created capacity within its testing facilities and as a not-for-profit organisation provides an independent, timely, cost effective service, administered by fire experts”


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