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On Fire

Is Spray Foam Insulation Fire Rated to Australian Standards?

Is Spray Foam Insulation fire rated?

One of the most common questions from those considering spray foam insulation for their residential or commercial projects is about its fire safety. The answer is clear: yes, spray foam insulation is fire rated to Australian standards and  tested under AS1530.3. This of course varies and is dependant on the product being specified. 

Understanding Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam products vary in chemical compositions, with most containing fire retardants. However, their effectiveness can differ significantly. Among the top-performing foams in Australia, in terms of fire safety, is a closed-cell '2 pound' foam infused with a fire retardant, tested to AS1530.3, with a group classification of 2.

 

Non-Technical Description of Fire Performance

Sometimes, fire rated spray foam has been described as combustible but self-extinguishing. What this has been interpreted by some, is that when the source of flame is removed, the foam continuation of burning is significantly reduced and the spread of flame ceases.

What is the AS1530.3 Test?

The AS1530.3 standard involves methods for fire tests on building materials, components, and structures. It specifically measures:

  • Ignitability

  • Flame propagation

  • Heat release

  • Smoke release

Detailed Test Results

An example of a commonly used fire rated spray foams used in Australia, the fire performance test results are as follows:

  • Ignition Time: 4.28 minutes

  • Flame Propagation Time: Nil seconds

  • Heat Release Integral: 47.8 kJ/m²

  • Smoke Release: Log d -0.6222, Optical density 0.2582 / meter

  • Regulatory Indices:

    • Ignitability Index: 16 (Range 0-20)

    • Spread of Flame Index: 0 (Range 0-10)

    • Heat Evolved Index: 1 (Range 0-10)

    • Smoke Developed Index: 5 (Range 0-10)

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What Do These Results Mean?

These indices demonstrate that the foam has ignitability but does not significantly contribute to flame spread or heat evolution during a fire. The minimal smoke developed index also indicates lower risks associated with smoke production according to the measurement index.

When considering insulation options, the fire safety of spray foam is a significant factor. With its 'self-extinguishing' properties and performance tested to Australian Standards, it represents a reliable choice for builders and architects aiming to enhance safety without compromising on insulation quality.

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Understanding the Technical Testing for Group 2 Classification

The Group 2 classification in Australian fire safety standards pertains to the material's behavior in reaction to fire, including aspects like flame spread, smoke production, and overall combustibility. Materials classified as Group 2 are considered to have a moderate performance in these areas, making them suitable for many building applications where such levels of fire resistance are adequate.

Testing Procedures Leading to Group 2 Classification.

The classification of some spray foam insulation products into Group 2 involves a series of rigorous tests, primarily focusing on:

  • Ignitability: How easily the material can catch fire upon exposure to a flame or heat source. 

  • Flame Propagation: This test measures the ability of the flame to spread over the surface of the material. 

  • Heat Release: This test assesses the amount of heat released during the burning process. 

  • Smoke Developed: The production of smoke is a critical safety consideration, as smoke can significantly hinder evacuation efforts and trigger smoke alarms.

Why Group 2 Classification Matters

The significance of a Group 2 classification for building materials like spray foam insulation lies in its compliance with safety regulations, making it a viable option for use in living spaces, offices, and areas where people gather. This classification ensures that the material meets specific safety standards that minimize the potential for fire-related incidents and align with building codes that aim to protect life and property.

Regulatory Impact of Group 2 Materials.

Using Group 2 materials can affect building design and insurance policies. For architects and builders, choosing a Group 2 classified insulation is a step towards adhering to fire safety norms without compromising on the thermal efficiency and structural integrity of the building.

Conclusion

The technical testing  of some spray foam products like the ones we use, leading to a Group 2 classification,  underscores their suitability in applications where moderate fire resistance is sufficient. Understanding these tests and what the classification signifies helps professionals make informed decisions about the materials they choose, ensuring both compliance with safety standards and the well-being of building occupants.

Important Disclaimer: The above content is for general informational purposes only and is not professional advice. Before using spray foam insulation it is important to make informed decisions, which is why it is important to obtain the particular product's data sheet and technical information. We recommend consulting with registered builders, certifiers, and licensed professionals who can address specific needs and compliance for your project to NCC and local regulations.

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