IFS Chemicals - World Class Polyurethanes
IFS Chemicals - World Class Polyurethanes

The Fire Situation

At regular intervals, certain parts of the insulation industry bring up the issue of fire performance of certain products, usually emphasising the organic nature of some insulation products that are then compared with other, quite different, inorganic materials. However, whilst a comparison of this type is understandable, it is important for everyone to recognise that material comparison is only one aspect of the fire question, as has been forcefully argued in Europe recently. A recent document from an organisation named Fire Safe Europe proposes that more should be done to reduce hazards associated with fire. Specifically, they are calling for intensified European action on this subject. However, it must be recognised that Fire Safe Europe is an exclusive club, largely funded by mineral fibre producers. They do not wish to have PU companies involved in their organisation, despite the fact that many polyurethane manufacturers do play a very active part in reducing fire hazards within buildings. One wonders whether the motives of Fire Safe Europe are actually commercially oriented since they pursue an agenda that is somewhat unbalanced and unrepresentative of the industry in general. In view of the fact that many businesses that have chosen to base their insulation requirements on the well-proven credentials of polyurethane foam have been asked about the fire performance of their products, it is worthwhile summarising the relevant arguments once again. The overriding importance of building design must be continually emphasised when discussing potential fire issues. Discussions should not be limited to fire testing individual construction products, as this is a poor indicator for the fire safety of complete buildings or building elements. Interestingly, recent fire tests carried out by the L.S. Fire Testing Institute in Italy compared polyurethane to stone wool insulation under test conditions designed to simulate real end-use applications. Despite the fact that the mineral wool board achieved an A1 classification and the PU insulation board achieved a lower rating (B-s1-d0 classification), the PU board passed the end-use test and the mineral wool board failed. Further details of these tests can be found in the Factsheets on the PU Europe website (www.pu-europe.eu) with an interesting video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXjMMfhNW-4&feature=youtu.be

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