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New alliance addresses flaws in the UK's fire-testing of cladding

The Fire Protection Association (FPA), the UK's national fire safety organisation, and UL LLC, a global safety science organisation based in the US, have signed a long-term partnership which aims to transform the testing and certification of facades and building envelope products within the UK. 


The initiative will enhance the capability and broaden the scope of testing available to developers, social landlords, specifiers and manufacturers.


Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety called for major changes in the UK fire testing market. Significant revisions are expected to the current British Standard (BS 8414) cladding test following a detailed critique conducted by the FPA’s testing and research team earlier this year, commissioned by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). 


Due to the increased capacity needed in the UK for cladding testing, this new partnership will be developing multiple new test rigs complying with the new updated standard, and these will be available from early 2019. 


Welcoming the partnership announcement, Jonathan O’Neill, Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association, says: “The Hackitt Review confirmed problems in the UK fire testing market. Teaming up with the world class team at UL offers FPA an unrivalled opportunity to provide a market leading solution to cladding testing. UL’s mission and expertise perfectly complements the FPA’s, and its global presence ensures customers gain barrier-free access to world markets.”


Chris Hasbrook, Vice President and General Manager of UL’s Building and Life Safety Technologies Division, says: “UL is committed to increasing the facade fire testing capacity in the UK as well as the quality of those tests, an area of weakness highlighted by the independent review led by Dame Judith Hackitt. We will ensure we play our part in rebuilding public confidence in a robust, reliable and real-life testing regime.”


James Dalton, Director of Policy at the ABI says: “The ABI commissioned the FPA earlier this year to review the current cladding testing regime of BS 8414, and it was found seriously lacking in five areas. This testing regime is not fit for purpose, so we welcome this partnership to improve fire safety testing and certification. We need multiple lines of defence to ensure the safety of all buildings in the future, not just high-rise blocks.”