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Kingspan Insultated Panels Statement

July 1 2008


Kingspan's Divisional Building Technology Director Mark Harris has responded to industry rumours regarding the safety of insultated panel systems - which have circulated as a result of a Association of British Insurers Guidance document. In a letter to Prospect he said:

"There is currently a great deal of misinformation in the press about the review of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) guidance document – Fire Performance of Sandwich Panel Systems: May 2003. Assumptions have been made by some sectors of the industry about what the ABI intend and this has led to seriously misleading implications about the suitability of insulated panel systems for a number of applications.

Kingspan Insulated Panels fully supports the review of the guidance document in question, and any clarification arising from that review, but cannot condone the behaviour of those aforementioned in spreading rumour and doubt about the independently certified performance of their panel systems. Whilst we wait with interest for the ABI to make public their review we feel it is important to redress the balance and state some facts.

It remains crucial to differentiate between the types of foam insulation in the market place and not to class them all under the same heading: PIR insulation behaves very differently from polystyrene in a fire situation, yet some parties use the poor performance of the latter to stigmatise the whole sector.

The current range of Kingspan PIR core insulated panels satisfies the relevant fire performance requirements of the Building Regulations through the BS476 series of tests and also satisfies insurers’ requirements through LPS 1181 from the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB). We believe that the current ABI statement means that in insurance rating terms LPS1181 approved external claddings can be classed as ‘non-combustible building’ although it is made clear that this grading does not imply that the material is non-combustible. This classification is part of the holistic risk assessment process used by insurers to set premiums and it also influences available capacity. We trust that any potential confusion will be addressed by the reworded statement from ABI.

Zurich Municipal Insurance Company, the leading insurer in the education sector, approves the use of LPCB approved panels in its School Design Guide.

A range of Kingspan panels is also approved by FM Global (formally Factory Mutual). This approval involves a series of stringent and full scale fire tests resulting in approval to FMRC 4880. Kingspan panels are certified to the highest level of performance - Class 1 without height restriction. These FM tests are quite different and complementary to the LPCB tests but with the same outcome – a confidence in the specification, use and real life fire performance of these panels.

There are a number of real fire case studies and independent fire investigation reports which prove the performance of LPCB approved panels with a PIR core.

Insulated panels should be looked at in the context of their whole performance, not just whether a single element of the whole is combustible or not. For example, a mineral fibre core may be classed as non-combustible, but the glues used to adhere it to the steel sheet certainly are not. At the same time, some insulated panel systems with a ‘combustible’ PIR core are capable of achieving LPCB approval to provide a fire resisting system to EXT-A. The quality of the products installed is also important, regardless of composition. LPCB and FM certification provides an assurance that a particular and stringent standard has been attained, and is not available to inferior products which may not perform well in a fire situation.

It is vital therefore that the question of fire performance is kept in the context of recognised, independent third party certification, and not in the emotive language of bodies seeking commercial gain. "

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