A 3 page article in Asia-Pacific Fire Magazine, published before the tragic Grenfell Tower London fire (see pinfa Newsletter n°81), explains the different types of cladding used on buildings (moisture protection, thermal insulation, decorative covering), building design and realisation issues and materials use.
The importance of fire stops in construction is underlined, to stop interior fires reaching cladding (e.g. where floors meet walls). The article explains that not only polymer foams can be involved in the fire, but also moisture barriers which are often bitumen based, mineral wool insulation which contain resin binders, and even aluminium sheets and structures which will melt and drip as small fire balls at 660°C. The article notes that in real fire conditions, the resin binders in mineral insulation can melt and fibres disintegrate then fly as small embers contributing to fire spread, polymer foams can burn and release flaming droplets, and even aluminium can melt. The cladding can thus spread the fire, which can then find its way back into the building in other places if fire stops are inadequate. Falling debris from burning cladding can endanger fire fighters and prevent intervention.
“A Perspective On High Rise Building Fires Involving The Façade”, P. Petrus, MDM Asia-Pacific Fire Magazine, 10th April 2017 http://apfmag.mdmpublishing.com/a-perspective-on-high-rise-building-fires-involving-the-facade/