Meeting national challenges with international solutions

Australia Fire

When Norway changed the national regulations for flame retardant standards for scaffold sheeting, the local construction industry struggled to find temporary containment materials that met the new requirements. Industrial Textiles & Plastics responded quickly to the demand, developing a new product to fill the need.

RECENT HIGH PROFILE, international incidents of scaffold fires have focused world attention on safety in all aspects of the construction process. In Australia, scaffold sheeting at a high-rise building in central Sydney caught fire. Flames quickly reached the top of the building and workers were very lucky to escape with their lives, although some were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation. This could have been avoided if stricter fire regulations for scaffold sheeting had been in place.

Attitudes to fire risks vary widely from one country to another. Some adhere to the most stringent standards, while others have no standards at all. Until recently, Norway had no fire retardant requirements for scaffold sheeting in commercial and domestic construction. However, the updated regulations state that sheeting for onshore work must now meet the minimum rating of Class B-s1,d0 when tested to EN 13501-1, the European standard for “Fire classification of construction products and building elements. Classification using test data from reaction to fire tests.” This standard restricts the acceptable level of flame spread and does not allow flaming droplets or excessive smoke; Class B-s1,d0 is the highest rating possible for inflammable materials.

Industrial Textiles & Plastics (ITP) responded to this demand quickly by developing temporary containment sheeting that met the new minimum requirements. The two products are Powerclad FR Standard Scaffold Sheeting and Powerclad FR Debris Netting. These products were rigorously tested to ensure that they conformed to the strict standards set by Norway, making them invaluable in the Norwegian construction market.

The Building Research Establishment (BRE Global) and Exova Warrington Fire are both recognised as supplying the gold standard for flame retardant testing and certification. They provide the main standards for Protective Covering Materials: TS62 (Warrington) and LPS1215 (BRE) for external use and TS63 and LPS1207 for internal use. Products manufactured to these approvals provide passive fire protection and have flame retardant and fire resistant properties. These fire performance requirements for scaffold cladding materials are requested in countries as diverse as the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Thailand and Kazakhstan.