Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Landlords warned of potential fire risks
Article Type: Environment and safety From: Pigment & Resin Technology, Volume 37, Issue 4
Thousands of properties across the UK could be falling short of strict new fire safety standards, because of the often unrecognised hazard presented by painted walls and ceilings.
As walls and ceilings are the main surfaces conducting fire spread around buildings, they are mainly constructed from non-flammable materials such as plaster, plasterboard, and concrete. However, the materials that are then applied to them can increase the risk posed by fire.
The continued application of conventional paints to these surfaces is likely to have a negative effect on the fire performance in terms of spread of flame, leading to walls and ceilings no longer meeting the Class 0 rating recommended in legislation.
Property managers, including council housing officers and housing association representatives, were given information on the potential problem, and solution, at a special fire safety seminar organised by Property Services Specialist Ian Williams to ensure building owners know how the revised legislation affects them. The seminar was run in partnership with Crown Paints.
The change to the laws relating to fire safety in existing buildings is covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (which came into force on October 1, 2006), and puts the emphasis on fire risk assessment.
It makes landlords or owners responsible for ensuring the safety of people using a premises, and requires them to carry out, document and act upon the findings of the risk assessment. But nearly 18 months after they came into force, many properties may still not be up to the required standard, and many owners may not even be aware of their obligations.
The seminar, held at Gloucestershire County Cricket Ground, in Bristol, for more than 50 delegates, offered the chance to explain how the new legislation will affect those responsible for fire safety matters. Painting representatives then assessed the impact of the changes and looked at new products designed to overcome the hazard of flame spread over such painted walls and ceilings.
“The two-hour session was a way of getting across the messages about fire safety and the changes in the rules which came into force in October 1996,” said Lucy Deacon, Business Development Executive for Ian Williams, based in its Bristol office.
“It was well attended by council officers, housing association staff and many other representatives anxious to make sure that their properties met all the latest fire safety regulations.”
“There are areas where this is particularly relevant, such as the type of paint used. If layers of conventional paint, whether water or solvent borne, have been put on top of each other, for instance, it can mean the fire rating of surfaces has been compromised.”
“Ian Williams has significant experience and expertise in building maintenance and regulations and so we gave delegates some information on how to ensure they are meeting their obligations on walls and ceilings.”
David Spicer, from paint producer Crown Paints, which jointly hosted the event with Ian Williams, led the discussion on the value of Crown’s Trade Timonox range of paints which can be applied to walls to improve the existing fire rating of previously painted walls and ceilings.