(Published by FSEU)
Zagreb, Croatia | 28th May 2014
The University of Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering, Fire Safe Europe and the Croatian Association for Fire Protection (HUZOP), carried out a large scale test on the behaviour on facades in fire.
Although many believe that façades have no or little impact on the spread of fire in building, the test revealed that façade fires can in fact spread very rapidly depending on the type of materials used.
The large scale test carried out as a part of an international seminar on façade fire safety, under the patronage of the Croatian President prof. Ivo Josipović and European Commissioner for Consumer Protection Neven Mimica, was attended by 200 international experts including regulators, media, and industry from 27 countries. University Prof. Dubravka Bjegović, PhD from the Faculty of Civil Engineering followed outlining that the aim of the seminar is to demonstrate the importance of raising awareness among building professionals, decision makers and the general public about the impact of façades on the risk of the ignition and spread of fire in buildings, especially during the period of building energy renovation. “Today’s modern buildings contain more combustible materials than ever”, she said, explaining that these materials can cause fire to spread from the inside of a building to the external façade through a window within a few minutes. Depending on the type of façade, she added, fire can spread to the neighboring floors of the building. She emphasized the importance of better understanding the effect of various façade systems when assessing the fire protection of buildings and highlighted the need to improve existing methods of fire tests construction products and elements given that many of these tests are outdated.
To demonstrate this point in practice a test of three façade systems, all using different thermal insulation materials, took place in the Laboratory for Thermal Measurements (LTM) in Stubička Slatina near Zagreb following the morning’s introductory session. As well as LTM, two additional prominent scientific partners performed the measurements – the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and the ZAG Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute. At first glance, all three facades looked identical, but as the fire spread it became apparent that there were significant differences in the way they reacted to fire.