Is ACP Cladding Safe?
ACP (Aluminium Composite Panel) Cladding, is a lightweight and durable cladding material widely used in modern buildings. However, after the Grenfell tower fire in London, concern has arisen about the safety of ACP Cladding and whether it meets the required standards. In this article, we will explore the safety of ACP Cladding.
What is ACP Cladding?
Aluminium Composite Panel Cladding is a material that comprises two thin aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core. The non-aluminium core is made of a variety of materials, but mostly Polyethylene (PE) or a fire-retardant (FR) core.
The non-aluminium core is the critical component of ACP Cladding in terms of fire safety. PE cores have a lower fire rating compared to FR cores. FR cores have additives that make them more resistant to flames, smoke, and heat.
Is ACP Cladding Safe?
ACP Cladding is safe when it meets the required standards for fire safety. However, not all ACP Cladding materials meet the standards. In many countries, including Australia, there are strict compliance regulations that must be adhered to when using ACP Cladding.
The Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017 was a tragedy that resulted in the loss of 72 lives. An inquiry into the fire determined that the use of combustible ACP Cladding material contributed to the rapid spread of the fire. The ACP Cladding used on the Grenfell tower was made with a PE core, which has a lower fire rating.
Since the Grenfell Tower fire, many countries have introduced new regulations or tightened existing regulations around the use of ACP Cladding. Builders and developers must ensure they comply with these regulations to ensure the safety of buildings.
Testing Standards for ACP Cladding
ACP Cladding used on buildings must meet the required standards for fire safety. The fire safety standards for ACP Cladding include the following:
1. Australian Standards (AS): In Australia, ACP Cladding must comply with the AS 1530.3 standard, which measures the material's combustibility and spread of flame. Materials must pass this standard to be deemed safe for use in construction.
2. British Standards (BS): In the UK, ACP Cladding must comply with BS 8414. This standard tests the cladding materials' combustibility in a real-life scenario.
3. European Standards (Euro): In Europe, ACP Cladding must comply with European Standards EN 13501-1. This standard measures the cladding material's combustibility, spread of flame, and the smoke intensity generated.
4. American Standards (ASTM): In the US, ACP Cladding must comply with ASTM E84. This standard measures the material's flame spread and smoke development.
5. International Standards: Some international standards apply to ACP Cladding materials. These include the International Building Code (IBC), which sets standards for building construction generally, and the International Fire Code (IFC), which specifies requirements for fire-resistant building materials.
Is PE Core ACP Cladding Safe?
ACP Cladding made with a PE core is not as safe as FR core ACP Cladding material. PE cores have a lower fire rating, which means they are more prone to catch fire and spread flames quickly. In most countries, PE core ACP Cladding is banned for use in high-rise buildings or any buildings that are more than four stories tall.
There have been many instances around the world where PE core ACP Cladding has caused fires in buildings. In 2014, a fire in the Lacrosse Apartments in Melbourne, Australia, was attributed to PE core ACP Cladding used on the building's exterior.
Is FR Core ACP Cladding Safe?
ACP Cladding made with an FR core is safer compared to PE core ACP Cladding. FR cores have additives that make them more resistant to flames, smoke, and heat. FR core ACP Cladding meets the required fire safety standards in most countries and is widely used in modern construction.
In conclusion, ACP Cladding is safe when it meets the required fire safety standards. Builders and developers must ensure they comply with these standards to ensure the safety of buildings. ACP Cladding made with an FR core is safer than ACP Cladding made with a PE core. In most countries, PE core ACP Cladding is banned for use in high-rise buildings or any buildings that are more than four stories tall. Compliance with the fire safety standards ensures the safety of buildings and the people who use them..