Partnership for the FPA aims to increase UK fire testing

The FPA has announced a new partnership with CLM Fire Testing, part of CLM Group, with two state-of-the-art test furnaces being installed at its fire testing laboratory in Blockley. A provider of passive fire protection and fire safety solutions, CLM Fire Testing will be installing the new fire resistance test furnaces at the FPA’s long-established fire testing facility in Gloucestershire.

The collaboration seeks to meet the ongoing demand for fire resistance testing in the UK, as FPA Commercial Director Chris Miles explains: “There is a significant lack of capacity across the UK for fire testing, particularly fire resistance testing, which has existed for many years and is impacted and exacerbated by drivers resulting from the Grenfell Tower fire and predicted to become further embedded on publication of the pending second phase Inquiry report.”

With third-party testing a vital component for ensuring the fire resistance and safety of construction materials, in 2023, the FPA became UKAS accredited to test a range of fire resistance standards for numerous product types. The valued accreditation has enabled it to fill the gaps in the fire testing market, and as Chris adds, help support the UK construction industry with the “many demands of the tighter regulatory framework”.

The partnership between the FPA and CLM Group marks a significant milestone in advancing fire safety standards and fostering innovation within the fire protection industry. The collaboration will enable CLM Group to provide its clients and supply chain with premier access to essential fire testing. In particular, the facilities will see the fire safety solutions provider offer its clients, which include some of the main contractors in the UK, quick turnaround testing of fire resistance systems. This is in line with the growing need for evidence testing of such systems for a more compliant and safer built environment, and it takes into consideration situations where some systems may require retesting during the construction of new or refurbishment of existing premises.

Specifically, the two additions to the fire testing laboratory are a large-scale (3m wide x 3m high) vertical furnace and a smaller-scale (2m wide x 2m high) vertical furnace. Reaching temperatures of over 1,000°C, the furnaces can test to a range of fire resistance standards for numerous product types, including:

• Building Construction Components and Materials: Fire resistance testing to BS EN 1363-1, BS EN 1363-2, and BS 476-20
• Fire Door Sets: Fire resistance testing to BS EN 1634-1 +A1 and BS 476-22
• Walls and Partitions: Fire resistance testing to BS EN 1364-1 and BS 476-22
• Glazing: Fire resistance testing to BS EN 1364-1 and BS 476-22
• Linear Joint Seals: Fire resistance testing to BS EN 1366-4
• Penetration Seals: Fire resistance testing to BS EN 1366-3

The partnership ties in with the FPA’s ongoing collaboration with UL Solutions for product certification needs, with CLM Group now providing project-based testing. Once expanded, the FPA’s facilities will include four fire resistance test furnaces to support manufacturers who require independent fire testing and product certification, and to meet the demands of the wider construction industry.

Dr Gavin Dunn, FPA Managing Director said: “I’m thrilled to be moving forward with this collaboration which expands our fire resistance testing services into a new market segment and complements our existing partnership with UL Solutions. CLM’s investment in two furnaces at the FPA’s fire testing laboratory will support a new range of clients in scientifically proving and impartially checking specific construction details and systems for safety and effectiveness.

“This is a crucial step in building an ecosystem within the industry that ensures the delivery of safe buildings we can all trust, and underscores our commitment to excellence and innovation in support of industry reform and regulatory compliance. I’m eagerly looking forward to working with CLM in the coming months and years.”

Tom Gilbert, CLM Group CEO said: “CLM’s commitment to improving the built environment is unwavering. Our significant investment in much needed testing capacity in the UK will enable our clients to access our UKAS accredited laboratory, conveniently and without excessive lead times.

“We have identified that Tier 1 contractors working in partnership with us on the largest and most complex projects in the UK require a far higher level of assurance than ever before, and our relationship with these contractors will ensure a seamless approach to accessing the highest quality testing available.”

“It was important to me that our offering was impartial, and partnering with the Fire Protection Association will give clients and regulators complete assurance that the tests administered within our furnaces are appropriately conducted and conflict free. We very much look forward to working with the FPA over the coming years.”

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