FPA to offer BS 8414 testing

FPA to offer BS 8414 testing

THE FIRE Protection Association (FPA) has opened up its test rigs for the BS 8414 standard ‘with immediate effect’ for commercial use.

In a release, the company stated that in response to the government’s announcement ‘restricting the assessment of external wall cladding systems’, its research and experimental test rigs at its base in Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire will be able to conduct full scale tests to the standard ‘with immediate effect’.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government sent out a letter earlier this week that 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.

While noting that as an organisation the FPA ‘wholeheartedly welcome[s]’ this move, it added that it is ‘concerned about the lack of testing capacity in the UK’, as this could ‘result in restricted availability and delay in the approval of building plans’. It cited its research conducted alongside the Association of British Insurers, in response to the Grenfell Tower fire, and which ‘highlighted concerns’ with the 8414 test – leading to the review being undertaken currently.

As part of the testing, the FPA had built the two rigs, and the decision to ‘fully open these for commercial use’ was taken as a ‘result of concerns’ about the ‘lack of capacity’ in the market, as well as the hope that ‘this will speed up the UK testing process’. The FPA also constructed a half sized rig ‘used for appraising bespoke features’, such as a window or opening that would ‘more closely replicate a real life situation’, with reports completed and with clients ‘within two weeks’ of a test.

Jonathan O’Neill, managing director of the FPA, commented: ‘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.’