Clearer guidelines needed to minimise fire risk

Published:  15 June, 2012

WALES: Rockwool has published ‘The Smoke Report’ highlighting the potential risk of smoke emissions from building products when exposed to fire.

The report highlights that smoke causes more fire deaths than flames and warns that fire safety regulations, covering the use of flammable materials in buildings, are being interpreted differently across the country and urges the Government to clarify fire safety guidance.

The research, which was commissioned by Rockwool and features contributions from the fire and rescue service, building control officers, fire scientists and the insurance industry, has been shared with constituency MPs.

It shows how new EU laws that require CE labels on building products declaring their smoke emissions should help homeowners, architects and builders to identify fire resistant building materials and those that will not produce toxic smoke in the event of a fire. However the report warns that the CE markings are likely to be interpreted differently across the country unless Government fire guidance is updated to clarify which products offer the greatest protection.

The report makes three core recommendations:

  1. A co-ordinated approach should be taken to providing guidance on applying smoke related fire safety building regulations across the UK
  2. Better information should be provided for the construction and insurance industry on the smoke opacity and toxicity of different building materials
  3. The Government should issue new guidance on how building materials are assessed for their fire risk and potential smoke production

Paula Bateman, Rockwool’s corporate affairs director, said: “Our research shows there is a huge amount of confusion about the interpretation of the fire safety regulations. This is putting people’s lives at risk and we hope the Government will act to help protect local residents and workers by issuing new guidance on the smoke emissions of building products”.

Mr Bateman continued: “We do not want new regulations that will burden the construction industry. Smoke emissions will have to be declared by building product manufacturers from July next year; we’re calling on Government to put this information into an easily digestible format to help the industry carry on creating homes that are safe”

Rockwool has provided constituency MPs with a copy of its report. Rockwool commissioned the report because all building product manufacturers will have to declare the amount of smoke they produce when exposed to fire from July 2013 and is calling on the Government to issue guidance to enable builders, architects and homeowners to create safer buildings.

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