ROCKWOOL fire safety regulation recommendations – UK market

This document summarises ROCKWOOL’s recommendations for improving fire safety in the UK. 


UK context

UK regulations rely on a complicated set of guidance, testing and industry practice to ensure fire safety in buildings. The UK is one of few jurisdictions in Europe to allow combustible materials to be used on high-rise building façades. Combustible materials can help spread flames, contribute fuel load to fires, and generate toxic smoke, which is a leading cause of fire-related deaths.

Further, the UK is among the very few jurisdictions in Europe to allow materials for high-rise façades to be approved through ‘desktop studies’, in which companies pay consultants to project the behaviour different façade systems in a fire of based on past data and their own calculations.


Summary recommendations

People have a right to expect that their homes, workplaces, schools, and hospitals are safe. We believe that to truly ensure public safety and building resilience, the UK should adopt a series of critically needed regulatory changes that include:


1. All mid- and high-rise as well as sensitive and high occupancy buildings such as schools, hospitals and care homes, should only be clad and insulated with non-combustible (Euroclass certified A1 and A2) materials.


2. The UK should adopt a simple binary system where building materials are classified as either non-combustible (Euroclasses A1 and A2) or combustible (Euroclasses B-F).


3. The UK should adopt world-leading fire safety standards, drawing on international best practice. For example, in France and Germany there is already a requirement for the façades of all high-rise buildings to be clad and insulated in Euroclass A1 and A2 materials only.


4. Regulations must take account of smoke toxicity alongside combustibility issues. Materials testing and classification should be introduced for toxicity, with stringent limits set on their usage to take account of the dangers posed by toxic smoke in fires.


5. Desktop studies should be explicitly banned as a route to compliance.


These recommendations would eliminate the need for expensive large-scale testing for the referenced building types as well as the ambiguities associated with the current regime. Taken together, these measures represent a simple and effective means of protecting public safety.