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MEEF - Articles - Rockwool (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) previous page

Uses - Fire Protection

The costs from fires in Europe every year are very high in terms of lost lives, billions of Euros of damage and pollution to the environment as well as the loss of often irreplaceable buildings.
Mineral wool is the ideal fire protection material since it is both non-combustible (meeting the ISO 1182 standard), and does not conduct heat. In other words it does not burn nor does it propagate fire. It can resist temperatures above even 1000C. It is eminently suitable for fire-retardant uses, for example as sheathing of building supports and girders, as covering for ceilings and for incorporation in fire-resistant doors and partition walls.

Mineral Wool insulation and fire protection products can be used in all types of buildings.

It is also used in critical applications in offshore oilrigs and petrochemical refineries where it protects against hydrocarbon fires.

Regulations and requirements flowing from industrial authorities, national governments and the EU are imposing stringent fire prevention standards on business and industry. At the same time insurers are offering reduced premiums to those who upgrade their fire protection measures. Buildings insulated with mineral wool often attract lower insurance premiums than those insulated with combustible products.

Fire barriers

Uses - Fire ProtectionIn fighting fires time is essential, particularly in the first few minutes of a fire. In a room fire the temperature reaches 700C in the first fifteen minutes and then can rise up to 1100C. Fire-resistant materials such as mineral wool provide those extra vital minutes to delay the fire spreading and help save lives, money, property and pollution.

New fire standards in the EU

Reaction to fire

European agreement on common fire rules for testing and classification of building materials has finally been reached having been an issue for 10 years. The new system will improve fire resistance and remove trade restrictions in the EU but the rules are complex and it is important to understand them.

The EU adopted the new rules or "Euro classes" for the fire properties of building materials on 8 April 1999. The system classifies products, according to their fire resistance using the designations: A1, A2, B, C, D, E and F. The most fireproof products (including mineral wool) have been placed in classes A1 and A2, with the fire risk increasing down through the table.

Single Burning Item(SBI) and Round Corner(ISO 9705) test procedures are used to classify the different groups. A decisive factor in the classification is the time that a product takes to reach flashover. Products in Class A are not subject to flashover at all. The methods will become CEN standards within a year but they are already in use.

The system also embraces a declaration of properties such as "smoke" in three classes and "combustible drops" in two classes. In total there are 40 classes in the highest specification degree of the system but national authorities may choose to apply only a part of these.

Within a few years therefore, a manufacturer will not be able to sell his products in all EU countries unless the products are CE-labelled according to their fire classification. Furthermore, the label must contain information on smoke and combustible drops.

The new rules will lead to the development of more fireproof building materials, as companies re-examine the market for their own and competing products. Fire resistance generally should also improve since CE labelling makes it easier for specifiers to choose the right material. Today (August 2000), there are 30 different national test methods for fire properties; so the new system with its less ambiguous picture of reality should remove considerable trade restrictions. However, it is up to the individual country to determine the national level for fire resistance and thereby how the new system is incorporated into the national building regulations.


Some Common materials and likely Euroclasses

Example Materials

Flashover Potential

Cement particle board
Glass Wool - faced
Rock Wool - faced
Painted gypsum board
Some fire resistant MDF
Some Birch plywood
Most fire resistant MDF
Some European Plywoods
Phenolic foam (foil faced)
Expanded polystyrene type A
Polyisocyanurate foam (foil faced)
Extruded polystyrene
Vinyl wall covering (gravure print)
Polyurethane Foam (laminate faced)
Polyisocyanurate foam (sprayed)
Wood fibre board (vacuum pressed)
Expanded polystyrene type N
Untested or fails Euroclass E





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