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July 7, 2022

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Testing

FPA unveils new compartmentation survey technology and launches insulation material identification lab

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) has announced it has developed new technology for compartmentation and door surveys, said to “significantly improve” the outputs for its customers. In addition, it has also expanded its testing capabilities at its Gloucestershire laboratory by investing in a new material identification testing service to help identify the type of insulation material used on a new building.

New fire compartmentation and door survey technology

FPA-CompartmentationSurveyTech-22Using a tablet device, the FPA’s software application enables surveyors to upload building floor plans which are used to describe the compartmentation strategy, and identify the location of each fire door and any identified compartmentation issue/breach. Each issue is given a unique ID number on the drawing which corresponds with the digital survey report. A RAG rating is also included to enable the prioritisation of remedial works.

This technology enables the FPA to produce a clear, concise, comprehensive digital report which links any identified issues to the location on the building floor plans, the team explains. Annotated drawings are provided in AutoCAD and pdf formats and the report is produced in a format so that clients can filter, extract, and import data into their own systems.

The compartmentation survey outputs comprise:

  • annotated plans of each building floor showing the lines of compartmentation
  • details of each compartmentation breach, hole, and imperfection identified with suggested repair detail
  • a thorough review of all elements of each fire door and remedial actions described using the BM TRADA Accepted Repair Techniques
  • actual or expected damper locations
  • any obvious fire hazards or risks
  • rough order costs for each issue (if required).

This new technology can also be used to carry out fire door inspection surveys as a discrete activity.

FPA Director of Operations and Principal Consultant, Howard Passey said: “We’re really pleased to have reinvigorated the way in which we carry out our compartmentation surveys and fire door inspections through the development of this technology. It offers considerable improvements for our clients as it makes the process of carrying out the surveys quicker, and therefore more cost effective. The outputs are also more comprehensive and more user friendly, and I look forward to our clients reaping the benefits.”

Material identification technology

The FPA has also recently expanded its testing capabilities at its laboratory in Gloucestershire by investing in a new material identification testing service to help identify the type of insulation material used on a building.

How are samples tested?

A total of three tests are conducted to identify whether the sample is PUR, PIR, phenolic foam, or wool. In order to carry out the insulation identification, a minimum sample size of 100 by 100mm is required which is run through three machines:

FPA-MaterialIdentificationLaboratory-22The microcalorimeter determines the temperature at which the material combusts and the amount of heat released. The elemental analyser shows the chemical composition of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur in the material. The Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) measures the absorbance of infrared light which is analysed to determine the material’s molecular composition.

Following the identification process, a comprehensive report outlining the test methodology and analysis is provided within 4-6 weeks of receipt of the samples.

FPA Managing Director, Jonathan O’Neill OBE said: “Not only does our new material identification testing service allow for the insulation material used on a building to be identified, it adds another significant benefit around verification. By fingerprinting the insulation samples, we can protect against material substitution, meaning we can assess whether a product installed on a building is the same as was submitted for fire testing. This also ensures the integrity of our UKAS accredited BS 8414 cladding tests.”

Material identification can be useful for:

  • building owners
  • property managers
  • facilities managers
  • fire investigators
  • risk managers
  • insurers and claims directors
  • mortgage lenders
  • fire engineers
  • fire risk assessors
  • construction companies
  • architects
  • developers
  • managing agents
  • estate agents

As a not-for-profit organisation, the FPA says it is able to price its services competitively. The service includes three tests on each of its three machines and costs £1,500 plus VAT.Find out more about the FPA’s new material identification service.

 

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