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Fire Safety

Flame Retardant Shrink Wrap Scaffold Sheeting – Why care?

 

Plastics containing flame retardants are found in a wide range of products and applications. Generally their use is mandated by building codes or industry specific standards. Most plastics will burn easily if heated to a high enough temperature but flame retardants are added to the product to increase resistance to ignition, reduce flame spread, suppress smoke formation and prevent dripping. The main goal is to delay ignition and burning to allow people to escape and minimise property damage.

It is important that companies who purchase flame retardant scaffold wrap films from suppliers/distributors are able to prove that the wrap they have bought and may be supplying onwards to their own customers is exactly the same specification/formulation as the wrap for which they have been given a flame retardant certificate. If there is a fire, they need to be able to prove to authorities they have taken all reasonable steps to carry out their duty of care obligations.

EN13501-1

A common standard is the European EN13501-1 certification. This test is a ‘snapshot’ of a film’s flame retardant performance at a single point in time. The supplier/distributor takes some sample product from the manufacturer of the film and sends it to a specialist testing house. The EN13501-1 certificate then remains valid for up to 5 years so long as there is no change in the shrink wrap’s formulation or production processes of the wrap’s manufacturer.

However, the problem with relying on EN13501-1 alone as proof of flame retardancy is that over time the supplier / distributor may change manufacturer, or the manufacturer may reduce the % of flame retardant in the film without telling anyone (At £5,000 to £50,000 a ton, flame retardant is the most expensive additive). If there are any changes at all to the formulation of the film the EN13501-1 certificate becomes invalid and the seller/distributor must arrange a re-test.

Fire Prevention on Construction Sites – Joint Code of Practice 8th edition

The Joint Code of Practice was first published in 1992 after two significant fires on construction sites resulted in combined losses of over £150 million. The legislation was put in place to prevent fires on construction sites by designing out risks, precautions and safe working practices.The Code applies to projects with an original contract value of £2.5m or above.

The code states that where flexible protective coverings are used to clad scaffolding these must conform to the requirements of the LPCB’s Loss Prevention Standard LPS1215. The material shall be manufactured in accordance with a quality assurance and certification programme and the relevant approval mark shall be printed on the material.

LPS1207 / LPS1215

 

Solicom Verisafe scaffold wrap film which is tested to two standards – the European standard EN13501 and the ‘gold’ standard created by the BRE’s Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) which is known as LPS1215. LPS is the standard required by many UK insurers and specifiers for temporary protection materials used in buildings. By achieving LPS standard, it means the Verisafe brand film can be included in the BRE’s red book of approved UK construction products, (www.redbooklive.com).

Testing for LPS1207 & LPS1215 is expensive and time consuming. To achieve the standard requires an audit of the manufacturing facilities every year by the LPCB. During the audit, a random sample of film from 3 production runs that have taken place over the previous 12 months is taken and tested to ensure it reaches the flame retardancy standards laid down by the LPCB. This means that no deception is possible as the product formulation that is being manufactured now has to be the same as that which was originally sent to the laboratories to obtain the initial flame retardant certification.

 

For further information on LPS1207 download a Guide To LPS1207 published by the Loss Prevention Certification Board.

For further information on LPS1215 download a Guide to LPS1215 published by the Loss Prevention Certification Board.

You can learn more about testing procedures for LPS1207 and LPS1215 flame retardant scaffold wrap films in this presentation by Damien Ward from the BRE; Guide to LPS1207 and LPS1215.

Have an upcoming project requiring shrink wrapping?