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Grenfell cladding not the only type to burn easily, tests show



By Trevor Rushton

The BBC has reported on the results of some fire testing of High Pressure Laminate Panels (HPL) commissioned by the Metal Cladding and Roofing Manufacturers Association (MCRMA). The results of the tests are disturbing, but we have long known that HPL can be troublesome in a fire particularly when combined with combustible cladding.

HPL, a rigid panel made from layers of compressed paper and resin is often supplied in “standard” and fire resisting grades – unfortunately the difference is not obvious unless panels are removed and the identification lettering on their reverse face is examined. It appears that MCRMA tested a standard rated panel rather than a fire resistant type save that in most cases even the fire resisting types only achieve a B rating under BS 13501-1 tests – this means that they do not satisfy requirements for non-combustibility.

Panels of either type are usually fixed with rivets back to a supporting frame. According to the BBC report, the fire revealed a tendency for panels to detach in a fire thus providing a source of oxygen to fuel fire spread.

It’s dangerous to rely upon press reports as they may create a misleading picture; however, Watts are pleased to offer assistance to clients who are involved with buildings clad with these materials.

Full BBC Article - By Tom Symonds, Home Affairs correspondent.

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