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Fire alert unfounded, claim panel makers

MATERIALS

COMPOSITE panel manufacturers are attempting to ease fears that foam-cored sandwich panels are a fire risk.

They said that insurers concerned about the use of composite panels in industrial units, retail outlets, hospitals and schools have nothing to worry about.

Insurers were concerned that a regime of extensive fire tests and evidence garnered from recent fires showed that these buildings are at risk from severe damage from fire.

Mark Harris, building technology director at panel producer Kingspan, called on architects to specify Loss Prevention Certification Board compliant products.

By using these products he claimed buildings could be rated as non-combustible.

He said: 'The only way to fully assess any cladding system is to perform a fire test on a composite product. 'Those that have been tested and comply with LPCB requirements can be used with confidence.' According to Mr Harris, panels with a polystyrene or EPS core are rarely used in external cladding and external panels with a PIR core enable the building to be classified non-combustible.

He said: 'Insurers have been exercised by rumours over the fire performance of composite panels. These have now largely been put aside.'