What fire regulations do you need to think about on a brise soleil project?

Building regulations were updated in November 2018 after the Grenfell fire, when combustible materials in high-rise buildings were banned.

  • Since 2018, combustible materials in high-rise buildings have been banned
  • It’s more important than ever for architects and contractors to understand fire-related building regulations and fire safety Eurocodes
  • Brise soleil materials and coatings must meet A1 or A2 fire ratings
  • While aluminium is non-combustible, timber will require specialist fire-treatment
  • BS EN 13501-1 is the go-to regulation for understanding fire ratings for the spread of fire, smoke and flaming droplets
  • Talk to a brise soleil expert to understand what regulations may apply to your project.

It’s a tragic reminder of the importance of fire safety, and although Grenfell was a cladding project, the guidance is just as relevant to brise soleil.

Today, architects and contractors want to understand the building regulations, the relevant fire safety Eurocodes and, first, the importance of material choice.

What materials are best for brise soleil?

You don’t need us to tell you that timber’s naturally combustible. It can be treated to be more fire resistant – but not to full A1 standards. What’s more, fire treatment can be expensive – which is another reason specifiers are moving away from timber for brise soleil blades.

Aluminium is considered non-combustible, and has a better fire rating (A1). However, coatings (which may melt and drip in fire or heat) can reduce that rating to A2. So it’s not always cut and dry that aluminium is best for brise soleil. For that, you really need to understand the various fire ratings.

What do fire ratings mean? 

You may already have seen the three-letter Eurocodes (for example, A1-S1-D0). Understanding them is pretty straightforward. Each fire risk has an initial: A for the initial reaction to fire, S for smoke propagation, and D for flaming droplets and particles.

It's all detailed in BS EN 13501-1 but because brise soleil and façade specialists deal with this every day, they’ll be able to help you.

Reaction to fire Smoke propagation Flaming droplets and particles
A1 - Non-combustible materials  S1 - Little or no smoke D0 - None
A2 - Non-combustible materials S2 - Quite a lot of smoke D1 - Some droplets
B - Very limited contribution to fire S3 - Substantial amount of smoke D2 - A lot of droplets
C - Limited contribution to fire    
D - Medium contribution to fire    

E - High contribution to fire

F - Easily flammable    

Fire regulations and ratings in this article were correct at the time of publication. Always talk to a brise soleil expert to understand what regulations may apply to your project.

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