Following the release of the Hackitt Review in November 2018, it is now a legal requirement for any building materials incorporated into the envelope of a building exceeding 18 meters high, to be non-combustible. As they form part of the building façade, balconies are deemed a potential source of fire spread and are included in these regulations, which dictates that any composite decked balcony must be replaced with a non-combustible alternative.
Adek, a non-combustible aluminium decking system from Ecodek, was designed in 2019 in direct response to these new directives. As part of its development, Adek underwent rigorous fire safety tests to prove it met the required building regulations.
Two years on and these tests are as relevant as ever, however there is a growing demand for flooring materials to meet additional assessments before being used in high rise buildings. Jessica Brown, Digital Marketing Manager at Adek, explores the reasoning behind this and whether it is strictly necessary:
“The Hackitt Review quite rightly resulted in building owners having to replace combustible materials with safer, non-combustible substitutes. When it came to the development of non-combustible balconies, aluminium was the most obvious material of choice. In addition to being fire resistant, it is low maintenance, highly resistant to many forms of corrosion and easy to recycle. This is why Ecodek chose aluminium to create its innovative Adek range of fire resistant decking.
“To enforce the introduction of non-combustible materials, building regulations and legal legislations were altered accordingly and all construction materials now need to comply with the relevant specifications.
“The Adek aluminium decking range has been independently third-party fire tested to BS EN 13501-1:2018, which provides the fire classification for all construction products. These products are separated into three categories: construction products (excluding floorings and linear pipe thermal insulation products), floorings, and linear pipe thermal insulation products. To classify in accordance with BS EN 13501-1, dependent on the product and application, a combination of tests is required to determine a product’s classification.
“As an aluminum decking product, Adek was assessed in accordance with the following three tests:
- BS EN ISO 1716 – Heat of Combustion Test (Calorific Value): this determines the potential maximum total heat release of a product when completely burning, regardless of its end use.
- BS EN ISO 9239-1 – Radiant Panel Test (Floorings Only): this is designed to simulate the conditions experienced by a flooring.
- BS EN ISO 11925-2 – Single-Flame Source Test: this evaluates the ignitability of a product under exposure to a small flame.
“On completion of these assessments, the Adek range achieved the A2fl-s1 classification – with the A2 indicating that the decking is non-combustible, fl denoting it is a flooring test, and s1 signifying a smoke assessment. By attaining this classification, Adek has demonstrated it exceeds safety requirements and meets all building regulations for use as flooring on high rise balconies, roof terraces and walkways.
Vertical vs Horizontal
“However, there is an increasing number of companies looking for flooring products to also meet the A2, s1-d0 classification under the Single Burning Item (SBI) test – EN 13823. This classification has been developed for other construction materials, such as cladding and signifies that the material does not create flaming droplets. The tests for these products are conducted in a vertical manner, to recreate the state in which the product will be used.
“The nature of how these different products are used and the orientation in which they are installed, all have a bearing on how they will react to fire. Because of this, the fire safety tests against each are assessed are slightly different.
“We understand that everyone within the construction chain needs to ensure they are using the safest products possible and appreciate that many will look for products to be A2, s1-d0 classified. However, we would encourage the industry to look at the use of the product they are purchasing and assess its classification accordingly.
“The Adek fire rated decking range has been tested to – and has attained – the A2, s1-d0 classification, but this is not the most significant classification for this product, as it does not specifically relate to flooring. Adek has been purposely tested for its fire safety qualities as a flooring product, not as cladding, and as such we believe this is the most appropriate classification for our product. It adheres to all relevant building requirements and legal obligations required for flooring at use in high rise buildings and is designed with safety at its core.
Further information about the Adek range and its classifications can be found at A2 Fire Rated Aluminium Decking System | Adek (ecodek.co.uk) or by calling 01978 667 840.