Is the availability of testing rigs slowing down the building process?

13 September 2018

In response to the recent government announcement restricting the assessment of external wall cladding systems, the Fire Protection Association has opened up its research and experimental test rigs to conduct full scale BS 8414 tests with immediate effect

In the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG's) circular letter dated 10 September 2018, the government requires Building Control bodies to only accept external cladding systems that either contain only insulation products and filler materials of limited combustibility or comply with the performance as currently specified in the BS 8414 test.

Whilst the FPA wholeheartedly welcomes this move, it is concerned about the lack of testing capacity in the UK which could result in restricted availability and delay in the approval of building plans.

Two new 8414 testing rigs – now available at the Fire Protection Association

Experimental research conducted by the FPA and sponsored by the ABI in response to the Grenfell disaster highlighted concerns with the BS 8414 test, which in turn led to the current review being undertaken by the BSI. As a result, the FPA built two test rigs at its Fire Experimental Unit in Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire.

The decision to fully open these for commercial use has been taken as a result of concerns about the lack of capacity in this market, and it is hoped this will speed up the UK testing process. In addition, the FPA has also built a half-sized rig that can be used for appraising bespoke features, for example the addition of a window or other opening to more closely replicate a real-life situation. 

The FPA aims to have test reports completed and with its clients within two weeks of the test.

Jonathan O’Neill, Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association, comments:

“The FPA have recently been instrumental in guiding research in the testing of external cladding systems and the use of non-combustible materials. In order to help facilitate a change the FPA have created capacity within its testing facilities and as a not-for profit organisation provides an independent, timely, cost effective service, administered by fire experts.”

Please contact Marketing & Communications Manager, Kate Allen, 07483062242 / kallen@thefpa.co.uk, for more information.

Is the availability of testing rigs slowing down the building process?