Technical brief - fire prevention takes hold

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Courtesy of Industrial Textiles & Plastics Ltd.

Supporting contributors to the Code include The Association of British Insurers, The Chief Fire Officers Association and the London Fire Brigade. The Code is being incorporated in many site insurance contracts. Noteworthy is “non-compliance with this Code could possibly result in insurance ceasing to be available or being withdrawn, resulting in a possible breach of a construction contract with requires the provision of such insurance.” The responsibility of compliance with the code lies with the Employer and appointed parties during the design phase and with the Principal Contractor or the Main Contractor during the construction phase.

According to Industrial Textiles & Plastics Ltd. there has been a noticeable shift towards flame retardant materials. “We have experienced an increase in demand for the flame retardant grades of our Powerclad scaffold sheeting materials,” says Director, Richard Menage. “The latest revision now incorporates scaffold sheeting which should conform to the LPS 1215 flame retardant standard. As more contracts require compliant FR materials, we believe that it is only a question of time before all scaffold sheeting will have to be flame retardant, regardless of contract value”.

The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) operates an accreditation scheme to ensure that materials not only pass the flame retardant test, but that they are also manufactured in accordance with a recognised quality assurance programme. Manufacturers have to be certified by a third-party approval body accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

emporary Covering Materials used externally such as tarpaulins, scaffold sheeting and temporary roof enclosures have to be compliant with Loss Prevention Standard LPS 1215 and temporary protection materials for internal applications such as lightweight films and twin-wall boards commonly used for protecting surfaces, appliances and flooring, should comply with LPS 1207.

The use of scaffold sheeting is commonplace, compared with two decades ago. Apart from minimising weather-induced delays to a project, scaffold sheeting enhances site safety by preventing debris and small objects from falling and it reduces the risk of workers falling from scaffold platforms. Scaffold sheeting improves the working area by reducing wind-chill factor, it improves heat retention and it contains dust and pollutants, thus minimising environmental impact. BS7955 is the British Standard for scaffold sheeting. It specifies the minimum tensile strengths of the material, its attachment points and the fixings themselves. “Scaffold sheeting should comply with BS 7955 for strength and with LPS 1215 for Flame Retardant performance. Non-compliant materials inevitably compromise site safety and put construction workers at risk.

We are great advocates of improving safety on construction sites and we promote both the BS and LPCB Standards vigorously. For a long time we have been recommending that Flame Retardant versions of Powerclad are used on any refurbishment project because the building is most likely occupied throughout the works, and the updated Code is a very welcome step forward for the industry.” says Richard Menage. A Flame Retardant material is one that self-extinguishes. It does not mean flame proof. Small-scale laboratory tests generally involve removing the flame after a set period and observing whether or not the material self extinguishes. Other test methods have varying pass or fail criteria such as char length, the formation of flaming molten droplets, oxygen index or smoke generation. Whilst small-scale tests are indicative, they are not necessarily representative and in an effort to replicate full-size installations, the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) developed a large-scale flame retardant test, LPS 1215. Compliant scaffold sheeting is easily recognised, BS7955 is printed at regular intervals along the edge of the material together with LPS 1215 logo.

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