Composite garden screens can be a fire risk, depending on their composition and the conditions under which they are used. This specifically applies to composites which are manufactured from wooden fibres and plastic. While some composite materials may be treated with fire-resistant chemicals, others may not have such treatment, making them more susceptible to catching fire. Additionally, composite materials can produce toxic fumes when they burn, which can pose a hazard to people and animals. It is important to consider the fire safety properties of any material used in outdoor applications, especially if it is near a building or other structure. It is always best to consult with local building codes and regulations to ensure that the materials used in your garden comply with fire safety standards.
What regulations apply to Garden Screening?
In the UK, the regulations and building codes that apply to garden screens and outdoor structures depend on the specific application and location of the structure. If the garden screens are located close to a building or property boundary, then they may be subject to Building Regulations.
The Building Regulations in the UK set out a series of technical standards that must be met for construction works. In particular, if the garden screens are over 1 metre high and within 2 metres of a boundary, they must meet the standards set out in Building Regulation Part B which deals with fire safety. This means that garden screens located in such areas would need to be constructed from fire-resistant materials, such as Class A or Class B fire-rated materials.
Can Aluminium be used in a part B Scenario?
Yes, aluminium is a fire-resistant material that can be used to meet the requirements of Building Regulation Part B for fire safety in the UK. In fact, aluminium is often used in construction because of its excellent fire-resistant properties. When exposed to fire, the surface of aluminium forms a thin oxide layer that protects the underlying metal and helps to prevent the spread of flames. Additionally, aluminium is non-combustible and does not produce toxic fumes when exposed to fire, which makes it a safe material to use in fire-prone areas.
Are there any examples?
Here are a few examples of fires that have occurred and the impact that fireproof materials can have in preventing or limiting damage:
Grenfell Tower Fire (2017): In the UK, the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 resulted in 72 deaths and was attributed to the rapid spread of fire through the building's cladding system. The cladding used was not fire-resistant and allowed the fire to quickly spread across the building. This tragic event has resulted in increased scrutiny and regulation around fire safety in construction, including the use of fire-resistant materials such as aluminium composite panels.
Thomas Cook Hotel Fire (2018): In 2018, a fire broke out at a hotel in Corfu, Greece, that was used by tour operator Thomas Cook. The hotel had installed fire-resistant screens made from aluminium, which helped to limit the spread of the fire and prevent it from reaching other parts of the building. No fatalities were reported, and the use of fire-resistant materials was credited with helping to prevent more serious damage.
Keltbray Fire Test (2021): In the UK, the construction firm Keltbray conducted a fire test comparing the performance of fire-resistant metal screens made from aluminium and composite materials. The test demonstrated that the aluminium screens were able to withstand high temperatures and did not propagate the fire, while the composite screens quickly caught fire and allowed the flames to spread. This test illustrates the importance of using fire-resistant materials in construction and highlights the superior performance of aluminium in preventing or limiting fire damage.
Overall, these examples show the importance of using fire-resistant materials such as aluminium in construction and other applications where fire safety is a concern. By choosing fire-resistant materials, the risk of fire and the resulting damage can be significantly reduced.
Along with building regulation part B compliance, Aluminium metal garden screens are known for their durability and longevity compared to composite garden screens. Here are a few reasons why:
- Resistance to weather and corrosion: Aluminium is highly resistant to weather and corrosion, making it an ideal material for outdoor use. It does not rust or degrade over time, and is not affected by UV rays or other environmental factors that can cause composite materials to deteriorate.
- Strength and stability: Aluminium is a strong and stable material that can withstand high winds and other environmental stresses. It is less likely to warp or deform over time, which can be an issue with composite materials.
- Low maintenance: Aluminium garden screens require very little maintenance compared to composite materials. They do not need to be painted or stained, and can be easily cleaned with water and mild soap.
The durability and longevity of aluminium garden screens can lead to long-term cost savings and reduced maintenance. While the upfront cost of aluminium may be higher than composite materials, the longer lifespan of aluminium means that it may actually be more cost-effective in the long run. In addition, the low maintenance requirements of aluminium mean that there are fewer ongoing costs associated with upkeep and repairs. Overall, the durability and longevity of aluminium make it a smart choice for outdoor applications where long-term performance and cost savings are important considerations.