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Certification helping to drive fire safety across the Emirates

Jason Hird on Fire Safety

With third party product certification schemes now growing in popularity, Jason Hird, Senior Technical Development Manager at Gyproc Middle East looks at the benefits they offer over basic fire test reports.

The spate of residential tower fires across the UAE has highlighted how far we still have to go to make our buildings safe. Each time a fire occurs, the cause is highlighted and Regulations tightened, as with foam- filled external cladding systems. This piecemeal approach, however, has left specifiers and developers looking for a reliable way of comparing fire performance of all building components, as part of a more holistic approach to fire safety.

This starts at the drawing board with features such as compartmentation to slow down fire spread and separation of areas of high and low fire risk.

Unless building products are themselves fire resistant, they will add to the fire load of the building. It is important, therefore, to use only quality components, such as wall and ceiling linings, that have been tested to provide the level of fire integrity and insulation needed for each area of the building – particularly in high rise towers where fire performance is essential to protect exit routes, allow access for fire fighters and prevent premature structural collapse.

Whilst useful, fire test reports demonstrate only that the specified product or system, at the time of testing, provided the level of fire performance laid out in the particular test standard. Third party certification systems, however, take a broader view of the manufacturer’s business and the processes and procedures in place to ensure consistent product quality and performance.

Fire testing, whilst part of this process, is carried out under the auspices of Certification bodies - themselves approved by the General Directorate of the Civil Defence and by recognised Accreditation bodies.

Certification can accommodate new and improved products much more quickly through assessments based on the product performance characteristics and procedures of the manufacturer involved and simplifies comparison of products, enabling costs to be controlled without impacting fire safety.

On-site, fire- rated systems must be installed correctly. Even the best specified building can be compromised by poor installation standards, short-cuts and bad site practice. The importance of installer training and supervision cannot be overstressed. At Gyproc Middle East, we offer full training and site support to ensure our fire- rated systems can be installed correctly.

Fire is unforgiving, it will find any weak spot caused by poor product specification or installation practice, so attention to detail is key throughout.

Gyproc Customer Centre Toll free 800 497762