There is currently a great deal of misinformation in the press about the review of the Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) guidance document, Fire Performance of Sandwich Panel Systems.

Assumptions have been made by some sectors of the industry about what the ABI intend and this has led to seriously misleading implications about insulated panel systems.

Kingspan Insulated Panels fully supports the review of the guidance document in question, and any clarification arising from that review, but cannot condone the behaviour of those spreading rumour and doubt about independently certified systems.

It remains crucial to differentiate between the types of foam insulation: PIR insulation behaves very differently from polystyrene in a fire, yet some parties use the poor performance of the latter to stigmatise the whole sector. Kingspan’s PIR core insulated panels satisfies the fire performance requirements of the Building Regulations through the BS 476 tests and also satisfies insurers’ requirements through LPS 1181 from the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB). We believe the ABI statement means that in insurance rating terms LPS 1181 approved external claddings can be classed as “non-combustible building” although this grading does not imply that the material is non-combustible. We trust that any confusion will be addressed by the reworded statement from ABI.

Zurich Municipal Insurance Company, the leading insurer in the education sector, approves the use of LPCB approved panels in its School Design Guide.

A range of Kingspan panels is also approved by FM Global (formally Factory Mutual). This approval involves a series of stringent and full-scale fire tests resulting in approval to FMRC 4880. Kingspan panels are certified to the highest level of performance – class 1 without height restriction..

Insulated panels should be looked at in the context of their whole performance, not just whether a single element is combustible. For example, a mineral fibre core may be classed as non-combustible, but the glues used to adhere it to the steel sheet certainly are not. At the same time, some insulated panel systems with a “combustible” PIR core are capable of achieving LPCB approval to provide a fire resisting system to EXT-A.

It is vital therefore that the question of fire performance is kept in the context of recognised, independent third-party certification, and not in the emotive language of bodies seeking commercial gain.