The regulations concerning linear joint seals, also commonly called fire barriers, have evolved in recent years. Several aspects have been implemented, such as a test standard that defines the testing of every firestop system, and a classification standard for fire barriers that introduces an EI class, expressed in minutes, in respect of fire integrity, gas-tightness and thermal insulation. Today, all firestop joint seals must comply with these regulations, which are some of the strictest in the world, in order to prevent the spread of fire through the joints of structures.
Summary of the regulations in force:
- French Ministry of the Interior Decree of 22nd March 2004 on the fire resistance of construction products and building elements. This decree introduces the implementation of European standards and cancels the Decree of 3rd August 1999.
Before the Decree of 22nd March 2004, products such as firestop cords and sheets were covered by Test Reports issued by individual laboratories.
The standards now define the experimental framework of these tests and the classification of the fire resistance values resulting from the tests.
- NF EN 13501-2 (May 2004) Classification: Fire classification of construction products and building elements. This standard defines the test conditions: fire orientation, movement range, connection types, joint width...
- EN 1366-4 (November 2006) Fire Resistance Tests: Fire resistance tests for service installations; part 4: linear joint seals. This test standard defines a method for determining the fire resistance of linear joint seals according to their intended end use, with or without movements generated by mechanical means.
This standard has been adopted by the European Committee for standardization (CEN) on 17th April 2006, and then adopted as a French standard on 5th November 2006 with effect on the same date.
Direct consequences of the regulations:
By definition, the Test Reports concerning fire resistance issued by the various laboratories before November 2006 could not refer to standards that did not exist at the time. Therefore, they do not comply with current regulations and have no longer any validity. Only a classification certification, with a validity of 5 years from the date of the test carried out by an authorised laboratory, has validity under current regulations.
Today, six years after the Ministry of the Interior Decree of 22nd March 2004 and more than three years after EN 1366-4 came into force, many companies and quality control and testing laboratories fail to apply or to enforce these regulations, including when public construction projects are concerned.
The Test Reports issued before 5th November 2006 do not meet the requirements of EN 1366-4 and do not comply with the regulations. The use of fire barrier products and systems that do not comply with the regulations would inevitably lead to penal sanctions in the event of an accident.
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