GENERAL INFORMATION

Specific fire regulations for each type of installation

Regulations impose strict fire safety standards when designing or renovating buildings. These vary according to the activity, the number of occupants, the number of floors, etc. In France, there are different categories of buildings and therefore different regulations (decrees, circulars, codes):

  • Residential buildings
  • Office, industrial and commercial buildings
  • Public establishments
  • High-rise buildings (HRB)
  • Warehouses
  • Parking facilities
  • Nuclear facilities
  • Tunnels
Fire sectorisation / Principles associated with feedthrough sealing

A building is made up of multiple technical penetrations (channels for cables, pipes, etc.), which cause the walls and floors to lose their original fire-resistance capacities.

The purpose of penetration caulking is to seal these openings to prevent the spread of smoke, heat and flame from one room or floor to another through these openings.

The sealing to be used depends on different characteristics :

  • Capacity of the penetration (occupancy rate)
  • Type of premises (level of risk)
  • Type of feedthrough materials (cables, cable trays, PVC or metal pipes, etc.)
  • Frequency of interventions
  • Environmental constraints (electrical risk, etc.)

There are other categories of equipment or products that perform fire sectoring functions (fire doors, non-load-bearing walls, joint sealing, etc.) and have their own test standard and specific classifications.

Protection of equipment against fire / The principles associated with cable tray protections

Some sensitive installations need to maintain the power supply or the control/command of particular equipment either to operate a safety scenario or, for example, to allow the evacuation of people.

The purpose of cable tray protection is to maintain the operational capacity of the cables thus protected even during a fire.

There are other categories of equipment or products that perform fire protection functions (protection of steel structures, load-bearing walls, etc.) and which have their own test standards and specific classifications.

Reaction to fire

“Reaction to fire” is the way a material (concrete, wood, paper, etc.) behaves as a fuel when it catches fire. This reaction is defined following standardised tests in approved laboratories.

In France, the reaction to fire of materials is defined by the decree of 21 November 2002, which differentiates between two types of materials: construction products and interior fitting materials.

For construction materials, the EN 13501-1 standard defines European classifications commonly known as Euroclass into 7 reaction-to-fire categories from A1 for non-combustible to F for easily flammable material. Two additional classifications are used to characterise the production of smoke and burning droplets.

For interior fitting materials, standard NF P92-507 defines a classification of materials into 5 reaction-to-fire categories, corresponding to the resistance time of a material at a given temperature: from M0 for non-combustible materials to M4 for easily flammable materials.

Fire Resistance & sealing / Example of sealing products

“Fire resistance” indicates the time during which, in a fire, a construction element (wall, floor, ceiling, door, etc.) retains its mechanical and thermal protection properties.

Every sealing product must be tested in an official laboratory to give it a fire resistance rating, indicating its fire-resistance time.

The fire-resistance classifications attempt to harmonise existing systems within the European Union. There are three classes:

  • R: mechanical resistance
  • E: gas and flame tightness
  • I: thermal insulation

These letters are followed by 2 or 3 numbers giving the resistance time in minutes.

For example: EI 120 for sealing products encompasses the R criterion and expresses a fire resistance rating of 120 minutes for hot gas tightness, non-production of flames (E) and thermal insulation (I).

 

Earthquake

Seismic risk is the possibility that an earthquake-type hazard will occur and cause more or less significant human, economic and environmental damage.

France, with the exception of the West Indies and other French archipelagos, is a country with moderate seismicity.

In France, regulations on earthquake-resistant construction have changed periodically. In particular, a new regulatory framework was introduced in 2011. It classifies “normal risk” buildings into 4 categories, as well as “special risk” buildings.

The seismic zoning in force since 1991 was itself modified on this occasion, dividing France into 5 types of zones: from zone 1 (very low seismicity) to zone 5 (high seismicity).

Radioactivity

Radioactive contamination occurs when a radioactive product is deposited on an object or being, or is ingested or inhaled. Contamination is distinct from irradiation, in which the object or being is subjected to ionising radiation.

In the case of contamination, the object or being is in permanent contact with the radioactive source until it is eliminated. In the case of irradiation, simply isolating or moving the object or being away from the radiation source will reduce the effect of the irradiation.

Because of the radioactive materials they contain or produce, nuclear power plants for electricity generation, industrial fuel production sites and nuclear waste treatment sites, certain research laboratories, hospitals using radioactive sources and certain industries are potential sources of contamination and irradiation.

ATEX

ATEX-certified equipment guarantees that it is not a source (thermal, electrical, etc.) that can cause an explosion in potentially explosive atmospheres (presence of explosive gases or vapours, dust, powdered products, etc.).

 

Tests

Each identified risk has its own specific test methods

NUVIATech Protection tests its products and has them certified in approved laboratories, according to the standards in force and in strict compliance with safety requirements. The aim is to offer optimal performance and a clear performance ranking.

Fire Resistance

Every NUVIATech Protection solution has been tested in accordance with European fire resistance standards and specific benchmarks for structures such as nuclear installations. The test results are recorded in fire-resistance classification reports.

Some NUVIATech Protection solutions also benefit from a European technical approval (CE marking) issued by a notified body and guaranteeing their fire-resistance performance and their durability.

Reaction to fire

In order to meet the requirements for the reaction-to-fire classification represented in “Euroclasses”, the main tests carried out are as follows:

SBI Test

The Single Burning Item (SBI) fire test is one of the main test methods used for our solutions. It is used to determine the fire behaviour of construction products (excluding floor coverings) when exposed to thermal attack by a single burning object (a sandbox burner supplied with propane).

The sample is mounted on a trolley positioned in a frame under an exhaust system. The reaction of the sample to the burner is monitored instrumentally and visually. The rates of heat and smoke development are measured instrumentally and the physical characteristics are assessed by observation.

M classification tests

This former French reaction-to-fire test is still applied for some products. It is carried out in an epiradiator booth, to obtain a classification from M0 to M4. A distinction is made between tests on rigid and flexible materials.

Flammability and Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI)

This test is used to determine a material’s ability to ignite by the amount of oxygen in the air needed for it to ignite.

Opacity of smoke generated by burning materials

This important measurement is taken into account in the SBI tests, but can be carried out using other test methods.

Non-combustibility performance

The non-combustibility of a material can be determined from specific tests :

  • Ignition ability tests
  • Tests to determine the Higher Heating Value (HHV)
  • Size tests for LEPIR II facade systems.

Transposition table between European “reaction to fire” classifications (Euroclasses and French Class M type requirement) for construction materials other than floors and coverings.

Air and water tightness

In terms of air and water tightness, there are different types of tests and methods to quantify the performance of materials:

Texts and standards

A useful overview of the texts and standards in force.

The regulatory requirement is set in France by law, decrees, orders and circulars (or by certain insurers). It determines the level of performance to be achieved in relation to the safety objective applicable to the installation.

The protection objective is directly derived from an analysis of the risks inherent in the installation, the number of people living there, the height of the building, and the specific risks. They are not the same in a hospital, a high-rise building, a mountain chalet or a tunnel.

– For fire resistance, the performance level is defined in terms of duration, expressed in minutes. An EI120 product will be impervious to hot gases and fumes, and will insulate hermetically for two hours.

– For reaction to fire, a reaction-to-fire classification of the material used is required.

With NUVIATech Protection solutions, every site can be equipped according to its characteristics.

Sensitive sites / Classified facilities for the protection of the environment (ICPE in France)

In France, in addition to the provisions of the Labour Code, when an establishment is subject to the legislation on classified facilities for the protection of the environment, it must comply with the provisions of Title I of Book V of the Environment Code.

Most of the ministerial orders issued in application of these texts contain fire prevention measures (location, design of buildings, fire-fighting means, etc.).

The NUVIATech Protection range offers you state-of-the-art solutions to meet these requirements.

Public establishments

In France, public establishments are classified according to their activity and the number of employees they can accommodate. According to this dual classification, the regulation provides for various provisions against fire risks (location of buildings, structure of installations, clearances, smoke extraction, separation of activities at risk, fire-fighting means, etc.).

The amended Order of 25 June 1980 – Ministry of the Interior – approves the general provisions of the safety regulations against the risks of fire and panic in public establishments. These provisions are in addition to those of the Labour Code.

In particular, 5th category public establishments have measures similar to those of the labour code.

High-rise buildings

High-rise buildings are classified into different types according to their activity. According to this classification, the regulation provides for a series of measures against the risk of fire (location of buildings, structures of installations, clearances, smoke extraction, separation of activities at risk, fire-fighting means, etc.).

The amended Order of December 30, 2011 – Ministry of the Interior – carries safety regulations for the construction of high-rise buildings and for protecting them against the risks of fire and panic.

Residential buildings

The amended Order of 31 January 1986 – Ministry of the Interior and Ministry in Charge of Housing – relates to fire protection in residential buildings (structure of buildings, clearances, etc.).

Tunnels / engineering structures

In respect of tunnels, fire regulations distinguish three types of infrastructure: road tunnels, railway tunnels and tunnels of guided public transport systems.

In France, the regulations are set out in the Roadway Code, the Transport Code, the Town Planning Code and the Defence Code. The regulations on the safety of tunnels for linear transport infrastructures are defined by several legislative and regulatory texts:

  • General approach to transport systems:
    • Law No. 2002 of 3 January 2002 on the security of transport infrastructures and systems, known as the SIST law.
    • Law No. 82-1153 of 30 December 1982, as amended, on policy relating to inland transport.
  • For road tunnels:
    • European Directive of 29 April 2004 applicable to road tunnels in the Trans-European Network (TEN).
  • For railway tunnels:
    • Order of 22 November 2005 on safety in tunnels for urban guided public transport systems.
    • Decrees 2005-276 of 24 March 2005 and 2006-1279 of 19 October 2006 transposing into French law the European directives relating to railway systems.
Workplaces

Articles R. 4216-1 to R. 4216-30 and R. 4216-32 to R. 4216-34 concern project owners during the construction of workplaces. They relate to the provisions concerning fire prevention and protection that must be observed by project owners during construction or during modifications, extensions or alterations to the workplace. These include provisions for clearances, smoke control, space heating, storage and handling of flammable materials.

Articles R. 4227-1 to R. 4227-41 and R. 4227-55 to R. 4227-57 concern user employers. They relate to the provisions concerning fire prevention and protection in the workplace that employers must observe. These include provisions for clearances, emergency lighting, space heating, storage and handling of flammable materials, fire extinguishers, alarm systems, and fire safety procedures.

ESSOC/ELAN Law

ELAN : In 2018, France’s ELAN law introduced major changes in terms of fire safety for all categories of buildings. In particular, it creates the concept of medium-height buildings for buildings that are not high-rise, but which present high risks given their height.

ESSOC : The ESSOC law (LAW No. 2018-727 of 10 August 2018) introduces the concept of “operational permits” for construction, allowing exemptions from regulatory provisions, particularly in terms of fire safety, with the aim of promoting technical and architectural innovation. In this instance, it must be demonstrated that results equivalent to the regulatory constructional provisions are achieved.

Update on test/classification standards

Test standards are intended to define how a solution’s performance is measured.

They describe the equipment needed to carry out the test, the type of load applied, its duration, how performance is measured and sometimes what should be included and in what form in the test report. The test report is the exclusive property of the test applicant.

The classification standards allow for a classification report to be issued, indicating the level of performance obtained by the solution tested according to the test standard.

The classification report is intended for the project manager, project owner and all bodies that might request it. It enables the level of performance to be proved and certified.

These standards are the indispensable common language at the national and international level in terms of fire performance and resistance. In France, the decree of 22 March 2004, amended by the decree of 14 March 2011, imposed the new European testing and classification methods. It also specifies the methods of proof required in France, i.e. a fire classification report drawn up by an approved French laboratory (CSTB, EFECTIS, CERIB, LNE, etc.).

The fire tests on NUVIATech Protection products have been carried out in accordance with the European standards cited in NF EN 13501-1, relating to reaction to fire, and NF EN 13501-2 and above, relating to construction elements, according to the modified order of 22 March 2004 of the Ministry of the Interior.

Evidence

How does NUVIATech Protection enable you to provide evidence of the required performance?

– Classification reports, building site notices, CE marking, etc.

All NUVIATech Protection solutions undergo the most stringent tests and come with the standard proof, but we are also able to offer you expert advice for cases that fall outside the usual scope of the tests.

– Engineering, expert advice

Some construction or other sites require engineering studies in order to best meet the constraints. NUVIATech Protection offers you the benefit of unparalleled expertise and R&D, as a manufacturer that has conducted thousands of tests over more than 30 years and continues to do so. These include expert judgements or fire engineering conclusions that complement the official reports.