Fire retardants in insulation, are they important?

Happy New Year Dear Reader, all of us at QI hope you had a great festive break and avoided Omicron: unless that is a new Marvel character in which case we hope you enjoyed the movie.

Onto the serious stuff. From reading the title of this month’s article you would be forgiven for thinking that we had returned to the subject of the fire performance of roofs and/or Approved Document Part B, but that is not the reason for our topic this month. The topic could equally have been ‘insurance, are you covered to store materials on site?’

If you are a roofing contractor, some of you will be used to reading tender documents and Employer’s Requirements (ER’s). If that is your role, have you noticed the increasing inclusion by main contractors and clients of a statement saying “please supply the relevant documents to confirm the insulation is flame retardant/shrink wrapped is flame retardant. Flammable materials are to be covered with flame retardant sheeting. 

Many QI customers have, leading to them asking us this question about our products, and stating that if the insulation or packaging are not flame retardant, they want us to wrap it in flame retardant sheeting to save them having to do so on site. Of course, this leads to them then highlighting another concern and asking how we can secure flame retardant sheeting to the insulation packs without there being a risk of the sheeting being blown off the roof.

This concern all comes from the fact that the main contractors’ insurers do not want flammable materials of any form stored on site as they present a fire risk during construction, and as we all know it is not plumbers and electricians who rule the world, it’s the insurance companies. In the event of flammable products being stored on site they need to be suitably protected to prevent them catching fire; whether at ground level or roof level. The risk of no-compliance with these requirements could cost you the opportunity to win a tender at best, but at worst it could lead to a claim by the main contractor on your insurance.

So, what is the answer from a QI perspective? All our insulation manufacturing partners either use fire retardants in their combustible insulants or supply non-combustible insulation, so QI can support your compliance with these requirements from stock with no modifications or additional flame retardant sheeting. You may ask is the same true of all other insulation manufacturers? In our experience, it’s not, which is why we partner with who we do.

Make sure you check the contract requirements for this clause, and ensure you protect your business from risk by choosing the right product. 

Next month: Non-combustible inverted roof insulation update