‘Stop the spread’ – a phrase that has inescapable so far in 2020: all over our TV screens, blaring from our car radios and permeating so much of our lives as to influence most of our activity every time we leave our homes. But what about inside our homes asks MEDITE SMARTPLY sales director Richard Allen?
In the construction industry, these three words have been critically considered long before this year made them infamous, in relation to an issue that will continue to always be a top priority throughout the rise and fall of other considerations: fire safety. In construction, safeguarding building occupants against the risk and spread of fire is paramount.
Demonstrating this, the UK government is prioritising the reform of building safety legislation with fundamental changes to the regulatory system for buildings. In the evolving construction industry we work in, these changes will impact the way the industry selects materials, designs and constructs buildings and even the way it manages them over the course of the buildings life.
The catalyst for this was of course the Grenfell fire tragedy in the summer of June 2017. Following this, Dame Judith Hackitt was appointed by the government to undertake an independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety. It has taken three years since the tragedy for the draft Building Safety Bill to be published, in July 2020. In the intervening time, construction has continued to evolve, and arguably its brief shut down in April 2020 due to the still on-going Covid-19 pandemic has only spurred further change.
Developed by specialist timber panel manufacturers MEDITE SMARTPLY, SMARTPLY MAX FR B brings an increased reaction to fire rating, up from the Euroclass C offered by their current SMARTPLY MAX FR product, which it replaces. The new offering is the first Euroclass B board manufactured in the UK and Ireland to feature wood flakes treated with flame retardant solution before pressing into panel form. Making its flame retardance integral and unchangeable by cutting or machining in this way demonstrates a simple innovation that responds in a practical way to the Hackitt report’s call for accountability and clear demarcation of safety and risk throughout the design and construction of buildings.
SMARTPLY MAX FR B contributes toward the safety for the eventual building occupant in the event of fire through the use of ZeroIgnition® technology: an environmentally friendly, water-based flame-retardant solution. Applying this before pressing sets this panel apart from others that are treated post-manufacture in that it also protects against the destructive effects post-treating can have on the physical strength properties of OSB—on top of invalidating the CE mark if the board is ever cut.
SMARTPLY MAX FR B also makes efforts to rise to the scale demands of offsite construction in that is able to be manufactured in sizes of up to 2.8m wide by 7.5m long, using a system called ContiRoll® —the continuous pressing of wood strands. This makes each board ideal not only for quality traditional building on the double, but for uses within offsite building too. Large format panels also have the crucial to 2020 advantage of allowing output to remain constant with fewer people on site, and letting individual workers maintain safe working distances between each other, adhering to government guidelines to indeed ‘stop the spread.’
For the complete feature read the Autumn issue of Timber Construction