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Rockwool CPD Seminars Advise of HVAC Fire Safety Issues


Rockwool, the leading manufacturer of stone wool insulation, is running CPD seminars for architects to advise them of the potential of misinterpreting Approved Document B when it comes to the issue of HVAC pipe penetrations.

Approved Document B, which concerns itself with fire safety in construction, has only two pages dedicated to the issue of HVAC penetrations and suggests the use of proprietary, tested solutions but then dilutes this message by suggesting that other materials can be used. Some of the materials listed in Approved Document B as being non-combustible and suitable for fire stopping melt after seven minutes in a cellulosic fire typical in normal commercial and residential fires. This seriously compromises fire safety which in turn has implications for the recently introduced Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Vanessa Hatton, Marketing Services Manager at Rockwool, explains; “The RR(FS)O effectively means that developers have even more of a duty to ensure that buildings are fire safe. When owners and occupiers conduct surveys to gain RR(FS)O compliance, they may not be aware of dangers posed by untested or poorly fitted firestopping around HVAC penetrations. They also may not be aware of dangers posed by heat transfer through the compartment wall due to unsuitable insulation materials. What appears to be a satisfactory solution may indeed be a serious risk in the event of a fire and could result in injury or death, thereby putting building owners at risk of liability action. Rockwool urges that only tested solutions are specified and that ad-hoc solutions built-up from a variety of materials are avoided.

“By specifying construction products and systems which have been tested and certified as meeting fire performance regulations, and by passing that information on to owners and occupiers, the construction industry can help to improve fire safety as well as helping to make the task of complying with the RR(FS)O quicker and easier and therefore ensure that businesses remain competitive.”

The RR(FS)O, which came into force on October 1st, is new legislation which replaces more than 100 pieces of fire legislation governing the workplace. Fire Certificates no longer have any legality and instead owners and occupiers of offices, factories and other places of business now have a legal obligation for identifying and minimising potential fire risks. Failing to do so could result in criminal liability action in the case of a fire resulting in death or injury.

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