Fire Safety explained
The European Reaction to Fire classification system (Euro classes)

Fire Safety explained

In the EU, the fire testing and classification standards for construction products have been harmonised in European Standard EN 13501-1. The European Reaction to Fire classification system (Euro classes) is the EU common standard for assessing the qualities of building materials in the event of a fire. Euro classes arise from classification systems for ‘reaction to fire’ performance of construction products.

The Euro class system

  • Compares ignitability, flame spread, heat release, smoke production and propensity for producing flaming droplets/particles etc.
  • Is accepted by all European Union States (mandatory where there is a Harmonised Product Standard)
  • Includes seven classification levels, from A1 to F
  • States that products achieving A1 and A2 classification are defined as non-combustible under Regulations.

The classification is covering three aspects:

  • The first letter gives a classification based on the combustibility and contribution to fire: A1 and A2 is non-combustible, B till D go from very limited to medium contribution to fire and E and F go to high contribution to easily flammable.
  • The ‘s’ part relates to the total smoke propagation/ emission level. The values range from 1 (absent/weak) to 3 (high):
    s1 = a little or no smoke
    s2 = quite a lot of smoke
    s3 = substantial smoke
  • The ‘d’ part indicates the ‘flaming droplets and particles’ during the first 10 minutes of exposure. The index is:
    d0 = none
    d1 = some
    d2 = quite a lot

Main Class Subclass Smoke visibility Subclass Burning droplets
Non-combustible materials:
No contribution to fire at any stage of the fire
A1 Not applicable Not applicable
Non-combustible materials:
No significant contribution to fire at any stage of the fire
A2 s1, s2 or s3 d0, d1 or d2
Combustible materials: very limited contribution to fire:
Very limited heat release and flame spread during the growth stage of a fire
B s1, s2 or s3 d0, d1 or d2
Combustible materials: limited contribution to a fire:
Limited heat release and flame spread during the growth stage of a fire.
C s1, s2 or s3 d0, d1 or d2
Combustible materials: medium contribution to a fire:
Will resist a small flame attack for longer at the beginning of the fire and will exhibit sufficiently delayed and limited heat release during the growth stage of the fire.
D s1, s2 or s3 d0, d1 or d2
Combustible materials: highly contribution to a fire:
Will resist only a small flame attack in the beginning of the fire
E Not applicable d2
Combustible materials: easily flammable:
Unacceptable fire behaviour
F Not applicable Not applicable

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How do the European Countries compare?

Whilst fire testing and classification methods for individual products are harmonised in the EU, building regulations for an overall structure- including fire safety requirements – are the responsibility of each individual EU Member State. Hence, Member States determine their own fire safety level and use a mix of products that – used together – correspond to that level.

Depending on the building type and height, the requirements for the products used will vary. Because of the challenge of evacuation patients, a hospital will often have the strictest requirements. The taller the building, the more complicated it is to escape. High-rise buildings are therefore subject to stricter fire requirements than low-rise buildings or family homes.

Herewith a comparison of requirements for high rise buildings in 11 countries:

Country European fire classification
The Netherlands No requirements
Belgium No requirements
Germany A2-s1,d0
France A2-s3,d0
Denmark A2-s1,d0
Poland A2-s3,d0
England, Wales & Northern Ireland B-s3,d2*
Scotland A2-s1,d0
Spain B-s3,d0
Italy B-s3,d0
Sweden A2-s1,d0**

* According to Approved Document B Diagram 40. Currently under review
** Or a system tested to SP Fire 105

As you can see 2 countries in the table – The Netherlands and Belgium – have no requirements for individual products used in the façade system, they only focus on the performance of the entire system. However, they do not have a fire-safety test for facades based on real-life, large-scale situation.

Two countries – England and Sweden – allow the use of products not fulfilling the product requirement if the entire system passes a national large-scale test. The other countries have strict requirements for the combustibility of the products used in the façade from limited combustibility (B-s3, d0) to Non-combustible (A2-s1, d0) .

Source: Fire Safe Europe

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