Fire Safety of Building Materials

The Grenfell Tower tragedy has raised questions about the safety of certain building materials. In particular, plastic-based materials are popularly used in construction, but are potentially combustible. When these materials burn, they give off heat and smoke which is toxic and asphyxiant (reduces air oxygen concentration). Some fire-retardant plastics, which inhibit or delay fire spread, are available as non-combustible alternatives.

Current building regulations and guidance surrounding fire safety in the UK are complex. They set out legal requirements on the minimum standard for design and construction of buildings and specify how products must be tested and certified for use in specific applications. There are additional requirements for high-rise residential buildings.

This POSTnote provides an overview of fire risks and behaviours of commonly used building materials as they burn. It will look at fire safety tests and checks currently in place to demonstrate building regulation compliance for high-rise residential buildings.

For further information on this project or to contribute relevant research and ideas, please email Lydia Harriss.

Image: © Crown copyright .