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Fire Testing of Roofs

BRE Trust/BPVA Workshop

Photovoltaics and Fire: Separating fact from fiction
12th July 2011, BRE, Watford

Sarah Colwell
BRE Global

Part of the BRE Trust

160 million buildings use over 40% of Europes Energy
Roofs are increasingly seen as under utilised areas that can
be used as energy generation platforms
Moving away from traditional roof details

What are the issues?

Fire Spread
Ignition and spread at source
External ignition / Fire spread
For England and Wales the fire performance
guidance to the Building Regulations can be found in
Approved Document B

Why test ?
Understand the characteristics of the materials in a fire
Rank performance of different materials based on test

Meet specification requirements

Show compliance with Building Regulations
Approved Document B / Technical Standards
FSE design solutions
Design Guides
Supporting testing for Certification schemes such as
the LPCB schemes

The external fire scenario is designed to give information on the

hazard arising from fires spreading to the roof of a building from a
nearby fire outside the building itself.

Radiation and Burning



Test Methods


Current guidance on External fire spread

England and Wales
Approved Document B Volume 1
Section 10 (Table 5)

Approved Document B Volume 2

Section 14 (Table 16)

How do we classify external fire performance of roofs?

Two options:
BS 476:part 3:2004 -Classification and method of test for
external fire exposure to roofs


BS 476-3:2004
Three part test
Flame Spread
Based on 1958 standard updated

Flame spread and Penetration

tests use:
Imposed Radiation and
Suction to represent wind
speed effects (~6.7 m/s)

1 Surface combustion heaters

2 Roof Specimen

3 Edge A

4 Window

5 Specimen cover

6 Direction of flame

7 Suction pipe

8 Trolley

BS476-3:2004 Standard Test

Specimens (840 10)mm square
Specimens represent end use roof
the deck and supporting structure,
at least one specimen containing any
joints in each of the products to be

Preliminary Test
No radiant heat
The test brand is applied to the centre point of the specimen for
1 min
Test one sample
Test Termination
At 1 minute if no ignition or until all flaming ceases

Flame Spread
Radiant heat ,gradient - 8.5 to 3.5 kW/m2
The pressure to the underside of the specimen is reduced and the
sample located under the radiant panels.
Immediately the specimen is exposed to radiated heat, apply the
burning brand to the specimen for three minutes with the orifice of the
brand on the upper edge of the specimen.
Test three samples
Monitoring :
The distance flame travels.
Test Termination:
When all flaming ceases.

Radiant heat 12.5 kW/m2
The pressure to the underside of the specimen is reduced and the
sample located under the radiant panels.
After 5 mins the burning brand is applied to the surface of the
specimen, moving once up and once down the centre of the
specimen over a one minute period.
Test three samples
Monitoring :
The time at which penetration occurs
Any melting of the test specimens and the production of molten
droplets or debris (flaming and/or non-flaming);
Any mechanical failure, or the development of holes, without
penetration by fire
Test Termination:
1 hour, in the event of no penetration, or earlier if penetration

How do we classify external fire performance of roofs

Rating system based on flame spread and penetration
times e.g. AA, AC, BB
Fire penetration (first letter)
A. Penetrated within one hour.
B. Penetrated in not less than 30 min.
C. Penetrated in less than 30 min.
D. Penetrated in the preliminary flame test.
Spread of flame (second letter)
A. No spread of flame.
B. Spread of flame is less than or equal to 533 mm.
C. Spread of flame is greater than 533 mm.
D. Specimens that continue to burn for five minutes
after the withdrawal of the test flame or spread more
than 381 mm across the region of burning in the
preliminary test.

BS 476-3:2004 Annex C
Samples are produced with dimensions nearest to
those required by the test standard.
They are fitted to the specimen so that the required
reduction in pressure to the underside of the test
specimen can be maintained during the duration the
Sample details critical

Annex C - Testing
Preliminary test
is applied for 1 min to the upper surface of the test
specimen, and is repeated at various locations,
such that the different principal elements and/or
materials are investigated.
But typically no more than three locations.
Penetration & Flame Spread
Samples are set up to challenge the joint details and
the main elements.

Annex C - Classification
Three tests are run for each part as before and where
a difference in classification arises a further specimen
is be tested to repeat the worst performing
The average of the two poorest results is used for the
purpose of classification.

Construction Products Directive (CPD) / Regulations (CPR)

Removal of barriers to trade between Member
States of EC
Not intended to remove products that have been
used successfully in the market place
Requires the harmonisation of Classification
systems and test methods
No requirement for the harmonisation of National
Building Regulations of Member States i.e.
responsibility for building and fire regulations
remains with Member States.

European External Fire Performance classification EN

2001/671/EC, establishes the Classification system for
the external fire performance of roofs and roof
EN13501-5 provides the fire performance classification
procedures for roofs/roof coverings based on the four
test methods given in ENV 1187:2002/A1:2005.
For the classification of a roof/roof covering, only those
test methods need to be applied for which the
corresponding classification is envisaged.
Each member state to chose how it uses the data. i.e.
one or more method could be used.
Products are considered in relation to their end use

Summary of EN13501-5 Classifications

Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4


















ENV 1187:2002/A1:2005
Consists of four separate test procedures:

The principal test conditions are:

test 1 with burning brands;
test 2 with burning brands and wind;
test 3 with burning brands, wind and
supplementary radiant heat;
test 4 two stage test method incorporating
burning brands, wind and supplementary
radiant heat.
All equally valid, no implied ranking.

BS 476-3:2004 and EN13501-5

Test 4 in ENV 1187 uses the same methodology as BS

but no flame spread measurement

Both options meet ADB guidance but the Market may

wish to continue to determine flame spread to enable:
Market differentiation
Support Approvals
FSE solutions

External Fire Spread is a key performance issue for
the fire safety requirements for roofs.
For UK based applications the two primary test
methods of assessing performance of PV based
systems are:
BS 476-3:2004 - Annex C
These fire tests are also supported by the ongoing
development of approval schemes for PV systems
such as those run by LPCB.

Thank you
Sarah Colwell
BRE Global