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SIPs Fire Safety: Are SIP Panels Fire Resistant?

Are SIP Panels Fire Resistant - SIPs panels being tested“Are SIP panels fire resistant?” is a question we hear a lot; increasingly so over the past few years.

With there being more of an emphasis on fire safety than ever before (and rightly so), it’s a subject we feel particularly passionate about here at Sips Eco Panels.  After all, people want to live in a home without having to worry about the safety of their insulation.

As a specialist SIP supplier with over 35 years’ experience, we have a responsibility to ensure that the right information is out there with regards to fire safety when building with SIPs panels.

Trust in your supplier is so important, which is why we wanted to highlight the issue of SIPs fire safety in this blog post.

Below, we’ve covered the issue of whether or not SIPs are safe in a fire (some are, yes) and some other factors that may affect fire safety when building with SIPs.

Are SIP panels fire resistant?

Yes, you can get SIP panels that are fire resistant – in fact, we manufacture SIPs panels that are proven to be fire resistant.

BRE tested our panel system recently, on a load-bearing structural party wall made up of two sheets of 15mm fireline board, and 119mm SIPs panel.  This was breached after 143 minutes – that’s 143 minutes where a family could get to safety.

Unfortunately we can’t give a blanket ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for other manufacturers as not all SIPs panels are built equally – or with the same materials, for that matter.

Which SIPs panels are fire resistant?

Although we can’t speak for all SIPs panels, our panel system is manufactured using EPS (expanded polystyrene) – which makes up the insulation of our panels, and is 90% air.  Unlike some other SIP insulations, EPS is not a propellant.

Fire-retarded EPS actually shrinks away from heat when it’s exposed to ignition energy, and will self-extinguish as soon as a heat source is removed.  This means that SIPs panels made with EPS will not provide a route for fire to spread.

This is why EPS is the preferred insulant of the insurance industry, and when EPS is used with specific cover layers, it should fulfil fire requirements with little or no contribution to the production of smoke.

Furthermore, EPS is recognised as non-toxic and chemically inert, producing considerably less toxic fumes than other insulants, such as wool or cork, with a very low level of fire retardant required (0.5% – 0.1%) compared to other insulation materials (up to 30%).

Why choose SIPs manufactured with EPS?

EPS has many advantages over other insulation, as it’s one of the most energy efficient, and greenest materials to use.  SIP panels manufactured with EPS tend to be super light, as well as easy, clean, and safe to work with.

It won’t rot or degrade over time due to moisture, mould, UV exposure or compact by vibration, and has a low environmental impact during production (another reason we choose EPS for our panels).

Despite all of the above, it’s also an incredibly cost-effective solution that’s seen as the future of construction, setting a higher standard as we go forward with fire resistant methods of insulation.

Advice from a specialist SIPs supplier

If you’re concerned about fire safety with SIPs, always ensure you’re using an accredited SIPs supplier who can provide trusted and current test data on fire safety.

Consider your SIPs insulation choice carefully, and ensure a) it will not degrade over time, and b) is not a propellant. Remember that not all SIPs are constructed the same way, so check they’re made using EPS.

All SIPs should be manufactured in a controlled factory environment that is regularly audited by third party certification bodies.

Finally, consider choosing a supplier that manufactures a construction system (like SIPs Eco Panels) as opposed to a component or single product manufacturer that has a vested interest in singular component parts.

Please click here if you’d like to book a visit to our SIPs factory.

In summary

To answer your question of whether SIPs are safe in a fire, the answer is not as straightforward as we would perhaps like – due to the fact that not all SIP panels are created equally.

However, when using the right materials (such as EPS) SIP panels can be one of the safest construction methods for fire resistance, with relatively clean combustion and a high fire-resistant threshold.

Remember to conduct due diligence when choosing a SIPs supplier, and ask to see trusted and current test data on fire safety.

If you have any other questions about SIPs fire safety, don’t hesitate to get in touch – our friendly team are always around to help.

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