As students get into the routine of face-to-face education after months of disruption, Knauf Insulation’s fire expert considers the essential issue of safety.
The number one priority of any school, college or educational building must be the safety of the students, staff and visitors.
Amaya Osácar, Knauf Insulation’s Fire Safety Manager, says: “There is a profound sense of trust in schools that they are safe places and this trust can never be undermined.
“That is why fire risk has to be designed out of these buildings from the beginning and the long-term management of these buildings can never be allowed to undermine safety.”
National fire regulation standards set strict safety parameters for buildings such as schools, but Amaya says real-life hazards have the potential to undermine regulation. If a fire burns down a school, simply saying ‘we followed regulations’ is not enough. There is a profound social expectation to have considered every possibility.
‘We have to minimise risk from the beginning’
“Challenges such as poor building maintenance, a change of building use, bad workmanship, the unpredictable behaviour of those using the buildings, the impact of room modification or the installation of materials that are unsafe, are hazards that increase the possibilities of a fire breaking out and make potential damages worse,” she says.
We have to keep fire risk at a minimum for these buildings from the beginning and that means ensuring the most efficient solutions are specified to achieve the most efficient fire-safe results.
At Knauf Insulation we have both the expertise and the solutions to help specifiers navigate issues of fire safety in educational buildings.
Firstly, the priority must be that fire does not start in the first place. Hazardous areas such as kitchens, generator rooms, storage areas or teaching laboratories must be made fire safe.
Secondly, preventing the spread of fire is critical to ensuring evacuation plans can be carried out rapidly and safely.
This means the effective compartmentation of key areas with fire rated walls, ceilings, and doors, paying attention to service installations and any other details that could jeopardise the compartmentation.
The performance of the façade in case of fire is also important to ensure a safe evacuation, the effective intervention of the fire services and prevent the external fire spreading to adjoining buildings or areas. Providing a high-performance façade is an excellent way to maintain high levels of fire safety throughout the building’s service life.
Knauf Insulation’s fire-safe solutions
“Knauf Insulation produces a wide range of non-combustible (A1-A2) and high-performance solutions for all building applications including Rock Mineral Wool and Glass Mineral Wool rolls and slabs,” says Amaya.
“Our non-combustible solutions do not contribute to the spread of fire, nor to the increase of temperature in case of fire and they do not produce any smoke or burning droplets.”
The purpose of fire-rated systems is to contain fire and guarantee a safe evacuation of occupants and provide safe areas for firefighters during an intervention.
Ensuring essential areas are protected from fire can be key to quickly restoring the use of a school after a blaze has been extinguished.
Fire resistance of up to 180 minutes
A strong example of Knauf Insulation’s commitment to fire safety is our Tektalan® Wood Wool board that combines Wood Wool with Rock Mineral Wool. It provides excellent fire-resistant properties with outstanding thermal and acoustic performance. Comprehensive international fire testing has shown that structures using Tektalan A2 panels achieve a fire-resistance of 180 minutes.
Tektalan does not produce dangerous burning droplets and hardly any smoke during combustion, contributing to the visibility and the tenability of the building area in case of fire.
Knauf Insulation’s fire safety expertise
Knauf Insulation also offers expertise to specifiers or designers who want to know more about the specific challenges of the building.
“Our customers are naturally concerned about making the correct choices. That is why in every country where we sell our solutions, we have experts who can provide the specialist knowledge they need” says Amaya.
We accompany our customers and provide tailormade advice for specific challenges. We offer optimal solutions that meet the highest levels of performance and help them to make the right choices.
Headline building fires around the world have propelled building fire safety to the top of every construction agenda and to the heart of national regulation worldwide.
“The obligation of all building owners and designers remains constant — we need to design fire risk out of our schools to ensure the safety of the children who use them,” says Amaya.