Are testing regimes for fire solutions going far enough?
Since the Grenfell tragedy, the performance of building materials is under an unprecedented spotlight. Etex Building Performance’s Technical Director, Nigel Morrey, specialises in passive fire protection. Here he shares his thoughts about existing testing regimes and how current regulations may not be placing enough emphasis on products working together.
How does Etex Building Performance ensure that materials are tested and fit for purpose?
Our products, processes and whole business philosophy show that, as a manufacturer, we take our responsibilities extremely seriously. At the heart of this is rigorous testing, technically competent people and a systems approach to our solutions.
What is your testing regime?
Current regulations tend to deal with individual products and how they perform in a laboratory test. This is not enough. Material providers should have comprehensive, full-scale testing regimes that study the performance of products working together to see how they interact under ‘real’ circumstances, like under fire conditions or when exposed to wind and rain. We need to assess how all of the products in the system – boards, metals, screws, insulation – react under these circumstances.
How many tests do you conduct annually?
Over 500 in Europe alone. We have three Innovation & Technology Centres where we have our own fire, acoustic, mechanical, structural and thermal testing facilities, equipment and laboratories. We also fully support and endorse third party certification systems such as BBA, BRE Global and Certifire.
Does the provenance of materials matter?
Yes, it’s important to understand that having a CE mark on a product is not a quality mark. Specifiers need to understand where products come from and the quality controls that were put in place to ensure a consistency in the performance of the material.
Etex Building Performance has some of the best fire technical experts in the UK and works closely with certification bodies to jointly develop and design technical solutions. Our range of technical support is there for specifiers throughout the lifecycle of the project, from concepts to completion, both in person, or online or by phone.
Nigel Morrey has specialised in passive fire protection for over 30 years. He is a qualified fire engineer and Chair of the Finishes & Interiors Sector (FIS) Fire Safety Group and sits on the Association of Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) Council and Strategy Group.