Spec Finish

Technical www.thefis.org 15 ENGAGING EARLY IS A GOOD PLACE TO START Robert Cridford , Technical Manager at Siniat discusses the ongoing government consultation taking place that could lead to the removal of national classifications from Approved Document B, this is the Pre- Grenfell legislation that Michael Gove recently referred to as “faulty” and ambiguous”. As this is the case confusion continues across the sector on the right standards to follow. T HERE has been an obvious shift to EN standards in recent updates to Approved Document B which now puts EN standards front and centre, and the consultation, which closed in March, could result in BS476 being removed entirely. The situation will continue to remain unsettling for subcontractors which are simply looking for some clarity on which standards should be used for their projects, and what to price and build. The best and easiest way to proceed is to ensure that all systems follow the most up to date, and robust guidance for testing, assessing, and classifying systems used for fire safety. Approved Document B states that this should be done by using the test standard rules or extended application (EXAP) standard, and only to make changes that are explicitly allowed, and that third party EN classification reports prove this performance. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on this method for all applications as some EN or EXAP extension standards aren’t yet available. Examples of these cases include partial penetrations and shaft walls. The gaps mean that in order to use some systems we will need to rely on BS testing a little longer, or limited assessments in line with Passive Fire Protection Forum (PFPF) Guidance, agreed with the design and building control teams. These exceptions make it difficult to rely on just one standard for acquiring fire test performance data across every system, in every project. The situation is made worse due to the high amount of risk, both to residents and to contractors. In fact, defect liability periods have also recently been extended and any person responsible for inadequate fire safety can be held liable retrospectively for up to 30 years since a build, and 15 years prospectively. For this reason, estimators and buyers should be aware that the permissible method to determine fire performance may differ depending on the descriptions used in the tender documents. Getting this wrong could lead to the installation being deemed non-compliant against the specification, leading to both companies and individuals being held accountable. If a specification has been accepted and costed without the subcontractor checking which standards are being used or what evidence level is required, the subcontractor may be met with unexpected remedial costs or a failure to meet the contract’s requirements on documentation. Due to the numerous inconsistencies, ambiguous guidance, and gaps in current testing legislation, it is always best to engage with the manufacturer and design team early on in a project to determine exactly which test data is required. This way subcontractors can check what test evidence, performance class, or classification is required at the costing, scheduling and material ordering stage and ensure that this information is clearly communicated with the site to ensure a compliant build and avoid costly disputes and remediation. So, while the manufacturer needs to provide adequate performance data and EN EXAP classification wherever possible, the rest of the supply chain needs to proactively enforce compliance by communicating with the manufacturer and requesting third party classification reports or discussing any requirements for alternative adequate data. This will enable subcontractors to determine how a project is being proven to be compliant, and therefore whether it requires EN testing and classification or not. For conventional, single frame, drywall partitions - those that make up huge volumes of fire-resisting walls in any project - it is already possible to use the latest guidance, following a Test, Extend, Classify process to EN standards, as asked for in Approved Document B. Contractors and designers simply need to request the EN classification reports to be assured that the most up to date standards of evidence are supplied. This collaborative effort is essential as it is the only way we can meet the most up- to-date legislation and avoid liability issues and unexpected costs to give ourselves, and our partners, peace of mind. But more importantly, communicating with each other is the only way that we can protect the lives of the people who will live and work in the buildings we construct. To find out more visit: www.siniat.co.uk/en-gb/uk/exap Robert Cridford, Technical Manager at Siniat Siniat - High rise project

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