Material selection is an important consideration in fire safety – but that doesn’t mean you should ignore ‘combustible’ materials like structural timber. In fact, structural timber has many advantages – it’s an excellent natural thermal insulator and it helps limit embodied carbon through the biogenic carbon absorbed by growing trees.
It’s worth reflecting briefly on the difference between fire resistance and combustibility. A non-combustible material such as stone wool will not burn under any circumstances. Combustible materials have fire resistant properties defined by the minimum time they will resist combustion under standard test conditions.
Systems, not Materials
A more helpful answer to material selection looks deeper than a simple choice between combustible and non-combustible materials to consider fire-tested building systems: both their performance and their construction.
Innovaré i-FAST panels are tested to 60 minutes load bearing fire resistance, or ‘REI 60’. They use timber framing that is fully encased by non-combustible materials. The facing boards are made from fibre cement and the insulation is non-combustible stone wool.
The panel construction means that the system has a surface spread of flame rating Class 0. The insulation and board are both rated A1 non-combustible.
Currently, i-FAST panels can be used for ‘high risk’ buildings (those in which people sleep overnight) up to 18m in height. For other types of mid and higher rise buildings designated ‘low risk’ they offer an excellent fire-tested solution that will simplify the build programme and help limit embodied carbon.
Informed decisions for new projects and for the future development of building regulations should be based on robust and verifiable fire safety test data. This should consider the performance of the system rather than individual component materials.
If you want to reduce the environmental impact of your next construction project and minimise the level of embodied carbon, the i-FAST system offers the reassurance of fire safety test data. You can look beyond a simplistic choice of combustible or non-combustible materials and make the most effective choice overall.