Warringtonfire can provide reaction to fire, combustibility as well as fire resistance testing for all your floor and suspended ceiling systems. Floor and suspended ceiling systems are often tested together as, when in-situ in multi-storey buildings, they provide essential compartmentation in the event of a fire.
Why do I need to test my floor and suspended ceiling systems?
These systems play a crucial role in real-life fire scenarios. The compartmentation afforded by floor and suspended ceiling systems following proper testing, certification, installation and maintenance processes, allows occupants time to escape or enables the fire brigade to enter without fear of collapse.
Global building regulations set out detailed requirements for these systems, which manufacturers must adhere to.
What testing will my floor and suspended ceiling systems require?
Floor and suspended ceiling testing shows how the system, working together, will prevent the structure from collapsing or control how the fire spreads from one base to another. Because of the crucial role these systems play in real-life fire scenarios, the fire tests they are subjected to are rigorous.
The tests for the suspended ceiling part of the system include the fire resistance and reaction to fire elements of the BS 476 series.
During fire resistance testing, specific products or materials from the suspended ceiling will be tested to see how they perform under a real fire scenario.
With reaction to fire testing, the BS 476: Parts 6 and 7 tests the combustibility of the products under the fire propagation test and how the fire develops on the product under the surface spread of the flame test.
With floor testing, this is usually done under BS 476: Part 21: 1987; the floor is exposed to a fire from below, and it measures loadbearing capacity, insulation and structural integrity. Find out more about our reaction to fire testing for the construction industry.
Additionally, loadbearing concrete floors supported by steel beams and protected with a suspended ceiling should be tested or assessed to BS 476: Part 23: 1987 or EN 1365-2, and the classification is done according to EN 13501-2.
Although seen as a whole in some respects, the systems need to prove fire resistance and integrity as separate elements, from below, above and from the sides. They also need to protect other parts of the building and contain any potentially burning cables or services located above the suspended ceiling. The test method for suspended ceilings is covered by BS EN 13964.
With floor and suspended ceilings, the test evidence is only valid if the systems are installed as they are intended. To find out more about the certification of installers, click here.
What is a suspended ceiling?
A suspended ceiling is an additional ceiling that hangs from the structural floor slab above; this creates a void between the floor above the ceiling and the top of the suspended ceiling. They can be found in a variety of different buildings, from commercial properties to schools and hospitals. The space a suspended ceiling provides can conceal wires, HVAC services, security features, detectors and sound and light fittings, as well as any active fire protection measures that would otherwise be on display. A suspended ceiling can also give a better acoustic performance, provide energy saving costs and benefit and, of course, give additional passive fire safety to a room/ building.
Suspended ceilings are required to give a period of fire resistance and undergo testing to prove this; however, this fire resistance could be compromised if not installed and maintained correctly.
Passive fire protection from floors and suspended ceilings
Floors and suspended ceilings are classed as a passive fire protection product, as they are built into the main fabric of a building and serve as an essential tool to stop fire spread. Also known as fire barrier systems, when tested, certified and installed correctly, they can provide up to 4 hours of fire protection (dependent on test evidence and installation) and provide what is known as compartmentation in a fire scenario.
The horizontal compartmentation of suspended ceilings is extremely important because it can slow down the spread of fire and hot gasses from one floor to another, allowing more time for evacuation. Floors and suspended ceilings are often seen as a system in the areas where suspended ceilings are located; the fire resistance needs to extend up to the floor level above in order to stop the additional flame spread.
Floors and suspended ceilings – what the building regulations say
The fire rating of floors and suspended ceilings are an integral part of the fire safety strategy in multi-storey buildings, yet the different demands on these systems can vary depending on the type of room and structure they are installed in. A fire rated ceiling may only be necessary over escape routes or where compartmentation is required.
In the UK, the national building regulations set out detailed requirements for these systems, which is generally mirrored across the globe in other local laws.
Two requirements of the floor and suspended ceilings are:
- That suspended ceilings must only make a negligible contribution to the fire development, the spread of flame, and smoke production.
- Suspended ceilings must hold their structural integrity during the early stages of the fire so that evacuation and rescue operations can be completed.
These requirements are tested during the fire resistance testing process. It is important to note that the entire suspended ceiling system is tested when determining the above conditions. It is not enough to determine how the materials used in themselves react to a fire situation. To be determined safe for use, the whole system is tested together, including all the fixtures, fittings and materials, so correct installation and maintenance are essential to keep these products working effectively.
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