MIMA statement on the BRE cladding testing
MIMA welcomes the BRE cladding tests instructed by DCLG and is fully cooperating with both DCLG and the BRE.
However, MIMA is concerned that the first test has not been permitted to run its full course. Indeed, the early termination of the test means it is likely only the cladding panel component has effectively been tested and not the full system construction including the insulation underneath. Given exactly the same panel type is to be used in conjunction with non-combustible mineral wool insulation in the next test iteration; it seems highly likely the panel will behave in the same fashion and the same outcome will occur.
It is our understanding the first test was terminated in just over 8 minutes. While BS8414 allows for early test termination in certain exceptional circumstances*, this is when the test is performing its normal function of either passing, or failing, a particular construction system yet to be built. In the current circumstances the test is also being asked to perform a risk assessment for building owners as to next steps for buildings already built.
BS 8414 for large scale cladding tests states, “The test duration shall be a maximum of 60 min. The heat source shall be extinguished 30 min after ignition…Data and audio visual records shall continue to be recorded for 60 min after ignition of the fuel source unless all visual flaming has ceased and the measured temperatures have been decreasing for a period of 10 min.”
MIMA believes it is imperative the tests adhere strictly to BS8414 guidelines to allow the best possible information to result permitting local authorities, other owners of tall buildings and most importantly their occupants, to make as informed and complete a risk assessment as the test can allow.
It is also to be remembered that BS8414 is a test of a ‘perfect installation’ rather than one necessarily seen on a construction site. As such, the test itself may come under scrutiny in its current role in Building Regulations of permitting, or failing, the suitability of systems applied to high rise buildings. This was surely another reason to conduct the tests in an arena that offered the maximum likelihood they could last their full 60 minute duration.
MIMA has also made a request to DCLG to confirm whether phenolic plastic foam insulation is also being tested by BRE. To date MIMA has not yet received a response from DCLG.
MIMA urges DCLG to ensure that these tests are conducted in full, providing all relevant parties with complete, comprehensive and detailed information on which to base their risk assessments.
For further information, please contact:
Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association (MIMA)
Tel:+ 44 (0)20 7293 0870
About Mineral Wool:
- Mineral wool is non-combustible and does not fuel fire or propagate flames.
- Mineral wool contains no flame retardant chemicals and does not emit significant toxic smoke when exposed to fire.
- Mineral wool in a building allows for improved fire safety.
- Mineral wool for use in the UK construction industry is CE marked and subject to the applicability of this scheme.