PLASTIC drainage pipe manufacturers have blasted claims that their systems can double the rate of fire spread in buildings.
They said allegations made by cast iron drainage pipe manufacturer Saint-Gobain Pipelines that plastic-based, above-ground drainage systems posed a fire hazard were 'deeply flawed' Saint-Gobain said tests carried out in Germany showed plastic pipes could not prevent the spread of flames downwards through a building and that the systems were destroyed within 35 minutes.
Saint-Gobain Pipelines build-ing services market director Alan Gwilliam said:
'The test was aborted at 35 minutes in the interests of safety. By then it had proved that plastic-based systems melt, catch fire and spread flames downwards.'
He added: 'In an increasingly litigious society specifiers will now find it hard to support the use of plastic-based systems.'
Tests were carried out by scientists at the MPA North-Rhine Westphalia Laboratory on the cast iron pipes, a PVC sanitary pipe system, an HDPE sanitary pipe system and a twin-walled PVC system.The tests were commissioned by German cast iron body, IZEG.
The systems were set up over three floors: the fire compartment itself, a floor below and a floor above.
According to the test results, in less than three minutes the plastic had started to melt and within 10 minutes molten plastic had ignited in the basement area.
But Frank Jones, director of pipes group at trade body the British Plastics Federation, slammed the claims.
He said: 'Over the past 40 years plasticbased above ground drainage systems have grown to account for 90 per cent of the market.During this time there has been no report that the use of plastic pipes has contributed to death, personal injury or risk to property in the event of fire.'
Mr Jones claimed that the tests had been carried out on pipes installed according to German regulations and that UK regulations were tougher.
He said: 'Plastic above ground drainage systems may only be used in the UK in accordance with strict regulations governing both the material and installation.
'These regulations do not exist in certain European countries.'