Flame-Retardant Doormats: Procurement for Social Housing
20 July 2021
WITH MORE and more manufacturers and businesses becoming aware of the importance of fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and subsequent legislation (including the Fire Safety Act and the Building Safety Bill), greater steps are now being taken to ensure that all products in buildings are as fire-resistant as possible. However, an item that is usually overlooked in this area is the humble doormat, writes First Mats.
When purchasing a doormat, most people look for something that’s thick and durable to keep mud and dirt off their floor. While these factors are necessary, looking for a doormat that is fire-resistant is equally as important.
Even if a doormat is listed as having some fire-resistant properties, this is not enough to make it flame-retardant. The majority of doormats are flammable and, if they catch fire, will burn and flames will spread very quickly, potentially blocking off the only escape route.
This is precisely why most doormats found in communal hallways within social housing have been banned. They’re classed as a fire hazard that can prevent people from evacuating safely in the event of an emergency.
Using a doormat that has the correct fire classification – in order to prevent it from becoming a potential fire hazard – is essential for the safety of people who live in the building.
Fire testing classifications
Minimising the risk of a fire hazard means taking the right steps to prevent the start and spread of dangerous fires. The EU Construction Products Regulation 305/2011 has passed regulations and test standards to ensure the safety of individuals. One of these standards relates to fire testing.
EN 13501-1: Fire Classification of Construction Products and Building Elements applies to doormats.
A1 fl: Only achieved by non-flammable floor coverings which do not present any risk in terms of smoke formation
A2 fl: Only achieved by non-flammable floor coverings with low levels of organic binding agents
B fl: Flame-retardant construction products passed the test with a radiation intensity of 8 kW/m2
C fl: Flame-retardant construction products passed the test with a radiation intensity of 4.5 kW/m2
D fl: Normally flammable construction products passed the heat intensity test at a radiation intensity of 3 kW/m2
F fl: Easily flammable construction products without any requirements or tests made
The higher the classification alphabetically, the more flame-retardant the construction product (the doormat) will be. That said, classes A1 fl and B1 fl are impossible to satisfy with most doormat materials, including textiles and LVT.
Anything with a classification below C fl (or German B1) is considered a fire risk and, therefore, is not best suited to use in a housing development like flats or supported accommodation.
The fire testing standard is taken a little further to test for smoke production as well. As is the case with any item that burns, smoke is produced which is harmful to human health as well as the environment. Floor mats that produce very little smoke when on fire are labelled as ‘s1’. Mats that fail this smoke testing standard are given the label of ‘s2’.
The need to keep communal areas that serve as escape routes free from blockage and flammable materials is critical. Choosing a doormat with a B fl-s1 or a C fl-s1 classification means that the products is perfectly suitable and safe for commercial flooring applications, including applications in blocks of flats. Residents can then enjoy the benefits of a doormat outside their front door without creating a potentially dangerous fire hazard.
*Further information is available online at www.firstmats.co.uk