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|
No contribution to fire at any stage of the fire
|A1||Not applicable||Not applicable|
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
|Combustible materials: easily flammable:
Unacceptable fire behaviour
|F||Not applicable||Not applicable|
(Extra) Fire safety meets design
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|
|England, Wales & Northern Ireland||B-s3,d2*|
* 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