Yuen et al. summarise building cladding panel fire incidents, regulations and perspectives. Numbers of significant fires worldwide related to cladding are accelerating rapidly from only around ten per year in the early 2000’s to around one hundred in 2014, continuing to rise rapidly with 160 fire incidents in 2018. Cladding fires can show rapid surface fire spread, penetration across claddings (due to heat conduction and/or deformation/delamination, often related to core melt or disintegration), vertical spread of fire by insulation cavities, fire penetration into buildings (e.g. via windows), ignition of surrounding structures by falling burning materials and debris, smoke emission. In Australia, a Senate Committee has identified problems of cladding regulation, including imported low-cost cladding products, fire safety compliance documentation fraud, inappropriate product substitution in construction products (for cost reasons) and a lack of clarity in building codes. Research and testing of cladding materials are summarised, concluding that the core material is the main contributing factor to fire spread.
Increases in building cladding fires
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