Fire safety

Fire-safety objectives:

  • Safety relative to hazards of fire and panic
  • Protection of persons and property
  • Fast exit of occupants
  • Easing intervention of emergency services
  • Limiting fire propagation

Fire-safety strategy is based on two fundamental notions regarding the fire behaviour of construction products: reaction to fire and fire resistance.

  • Reaction to fire: intrinsic characteristics of a material. All the properties of a material which contribute to the outbreak and development of a fire
  • Fire resistance: ability of a construction element to fulfil its function despite fire action. One speaks of maintaining functionality

Levels of requirement are broken down according to building types (residential, open to the public, etc.) and/or their function (housing, work, entertainment, etc.).

Reaction to fire

Construction products and decoration materials (paints, wall coverings, etc.) are classified using one of the following two systems:

  • M classification (M4, M3, M2, M1, M0): for decoration materials and construction products not yet subject to CE marking;
  • Euroclasses (A1, A2, B, C, D, E, F): the European classification system comprises 7 Euroclasses applicable to construction products, plus 2 symbols characterizing the propensity for producing smoke (s) and burning droplets (d).

The conditions governing use of Euroclasses with respect to the requirements of fire safety regulations expressed in terms of M classifications are defined in the French governmental ordinance of November 21, 2002:

Euroclasses table
(1) Performance level ‘d1’ is accepted only for products that are not thermofusible under test conditions
(2) Performance level ‘s1’ dispenses with the need to provide the information specified by French
ordinance of November 4, 1975 (modified) relating to regulations governing the use of certain materials
and products in buildings open to the public and the instruction of December 1, 1976 relative thereto
(3) Acceptable for M1 if ‘not substantial’ as defined in Appendix 1 to the ordinance of November 21,2002

Fire resistance

The degree of fire resistance is expressed as a duration:
– French system in hours: ¼ h – ½ h – 1 h – 1 h ½ – 2 h – 3 h – 4 h – 6 h
– European system in minutes: 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, 180, 240, 360

> General

Fire resistance (French fire resistance ordinance of March 22, 2004, modified) qualifies the propensity of an tiem to remain stable under fire (loadbearing or self-supporting role) and/or to continue to provide integrity and to insulate from flame and flammable gases for a given time.
Items must comply with the R, E and I criteria as follows:
– items with a separation role only: integrity (criterion E) and, if necessary, insulation (criterion I)
– items with a loadbearing role only: strength (criterion R)


> Definitions

  • Loadbearing capacity R: ability of an element to remain stable during a fire
  • Fire integrity E: ability of a construction element fulfilling a compartmentation role to withstand exposure to fire on one side without allowing penetration of flame or hot gas.
    Fire integrity is appraised on the basis of the following three criteria:
    – cracks or holes in excess of stipulated dimensions,
    – ignition of cotton pad,
    – sustained flaming on the non-exposed side.
  • Thermal insulation: ability of an element to withstand exposure to fire on one side without conveying it to the non-exposed side through heat transfer.
    The average temperature on the non-exposed face must be <140°C (with a maximum of 180°C at any point).

> Correspondence between European and French classifications

Correspondence classifications