The Euroclass system: one standard on fire safety

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The Euroclass system is the leading standard in Europe for fire safety classification of building materials. It’s mandatory to use this standardized system with consistent quality levels. However, there are still often referrals to old standards. This leads to confusion and incorrectness, as they can be based on completely different test methods.

What is the Euroclass system?

The Euroclass system classifies the reaction to fire and by this the behaviour and contribution of construction materials in a fire. The method of SBI-testing is leading here for determining class B to D. A1 and A2 classifications can be given on the basis of a successful non-combustibility test. Certification by the Euroclass system is mandatory.

The Euroclass classifications: what does a certain classification mean?

In the Euroclass system, each classification means that for a product tested within a certain end-use application, there are specific parameters tested and achieved. In the lowest class, F, nothing is tested. Class E only tests with a small flame for a short period of time. D does more testing and also takes into account smoke propagation (s) and the amount of flaming droplets and particles in the first ten minutes of the test (d). At level D, we basically see the first SBI-test, in which a total kit is tested. Classes C and B are even more strict.

In class A2, all of the tests for previous classification levels are done, and there is also a test for the calorific content of the product. A1 only tests the calorific content, which should be of a very low value. Classes A1 and A2 are defined as non-combustible: materials from these classes do not contribute significantly to a fire. Basically, this method is based on a stacked level of testing: with every class there are more strict rules to comply with.

What do the additions s1, s2, s3, d0, d1 and d2 mean?

Whereas the A-F determines the class of a product, there are also two subclasses involved with a classification. The ‘s’ indicates the amount of smoke generated by the product during a fire, and can be s1 (little or no smoke), s2 (visible smoke) or s3 (substantial smoke). The ‘d’ indicates the flaming droplets and particles during the initial ten minutes of the fire and can be d0 (none), d1 (some) or d2 (quite a lot).

Non-combustibles (Euroclass A1 and A2) are the best choice in high-rise and high-risk

Why was the Euroclass system introduced?

The Euroclass system was introduced by the European Union (EU) in 2000 to remove trade barriers between individual member states. Before the introduction, manufacturers of building products had to test building products in individual countries. All of them had their own unique testing methods to define the fire performance of a product. In order to enter the market in another country, companies had to obtain approval in every single country. This was not only time-consuming, but it also led to inconsistencies in quality levels. The EU solved this situation by introducing a classification system that applied to all member states.

The benefit of the Euroclass system is that it tests the performance in the so-called End Use Application. It also evaluates multiple aspects like ignitability, flame spread, heat emission and so on. Often national test methods cover only flame spread over the product surface for example.

What does this mean for old national classifications? Is it possible to compare national classes to the international standard?

All over Europe, the Euroclass system is recognised as the standard on fire safety. This means that, in principle, it is no longer allowed to use older (national) classifications. The Euroclass system is integrated into the national building regulations and codes (mandatory), but often the reference to the old standards is kept in this adaptation. This leads to confusion and incorrectness. National classifications are not the same as those of the Euroclass, because the test methods are totally different.

It can look like there are tables that ‘translate’ the older classifications or regulations into Euroclass, but these are tables for legislation purposes and do not say anything about the performance of materials in case of fire. It is not possible to use a national classification to claim a Euroclass.

It is therefore strongly advised to always use the Euroclass system and to be suspicious and question referrals to older classifications.

 

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