Low Fire Hazard systems are required to protect the public, personnel and property in the event of a fire and are demanded by Specifiers, Industry Bodies, Train and Network Operators, Fire Services and even Insurers.
Assessing Fire performance...
Flame Retardant. To assess how flame retardant a material is, the normal test method is to measure the Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI) according to BS EN ISO 4589-2 which determines the percentage of oxygen that needs to be present to support combustion. The higher the LOI percentage, the greater the flame retardancy of the material. Oxygen present in normal air is approx. 21%.
Smoke. A specified sample of material is burnt under controlled conditions in a given size smoke chamber and the smoke obscuration of a defined beam of light is measured. Although the different tests are similar, the results and the requirements are different. The lower the smoke density, the more efficient evacuation and safety for fire fighting becomes.
Toxicity. A specified sample of material is burnt under controlled conditions in a given size smoke chamber and the fumes are analysed for various gases, the concentration of each gas is then multiplied by its toxic potency to give a toxicity index. If halogens, sulphur or phosphorus are present in a material, it is unlikely to pass the low toxicity tests.
Halogen Free. Halogens give off highly toxic fumes and thick smoke. A material cannot be considered as Low Fire Hazard if it contains halogen. However a halogen free material is not necessarily Low Fire hazard as it may not be low toxicity, low smoke and highly flame retardant. Halogen content is assessed by various chemical tests and analytical techniques
Simple classifications of performance from Flexicon...
- Inherently Low Fire Hazard - no non metallic materials to burn or create smoke or toxic fumes
- Limiting Oxygen Index of greater than 32% as well as being low smoke and toxicity.
- Limiting Oxygen Index of greater than 26% as well as being low smoke and toxicity
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