Work on site for one of our valued clients Life Build Solutions begins today for Broadsword Screeding with the installation of RIW Blue Damp Proof Membrane prior to laying Xtratherm insulation and floor screed.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has confirmed his government’s commitment to using construction to help rebuild the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
He has pledged to fund 40 new hospitals and provide large-scale investment in roads and rail projects.
A statement from Downing Street said the government was committed to an immediate £5bn package of capital investment in infrastructure projects, although some of those specifically named – such as a £1.2bn spend on schools – had been announced before, including in the Infrastructure and Project Authority’s pipeline of planned projects two weeks ago.
Johnson said a taskforce called ‘Project Speed’ would be set up to “scythe through red tape” and get projects delivered faster and hinted at changes to procurement rules to speed up appointments.
He said: “With every flood-defending culvert that we dig, with every railway station, hospital or school that we build, we will of course be tackling the next wave of this crisis by helping to create thousands of high-paid, high-skilled jobs.
“Because we know in our hearts that the furloughing cannot go on forever, and as the economy recovers we also know that the jobs that many people had in January are also not coming back or at least not in that form; we know that is the biggest and most immediate economic challenge that we face.”
A long-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy is due to be released in the autumn, Downing Street confirmed.
Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn welcomed Johnson’s speech: “The prime minister’s commitment to accelerate the UK’s long-term infrastructure pipeline is a critical factor for the country’s recovery. As well as stimulating regional and national economies, it will generate vast employment opportunities across the country and help provide our younger generations with employable skills. Without this, following the fallout from COVID-19, we could see widespread structural unemployment issues,” he said.
But Pinsent Masons infrastructure partner Jon Hart warned that the “eye-catching” commitments lack substance. He said: “The previously announced ‘pipeline’ contains a number of anomalies in respect of projects that have already been announced.
“During such an economically turbulent time, the government needs to remove uncertainty around approaches to procurement, particularly for schools and hospitals,” he added. “It will be interesting to see how tendering processes can be sped up and how the public-sector capacity gap within government for procuring schemes, when coupled with the industry’s own skills shortage, is going to be addressed.”
Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry called for the repair and maintenance sector not to be overlooked in government investment plans, and called for a VAT cut to boost that market.
UK Green Building Council chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said there needs to be more investment in specific measures to hit net-zero carbon emissions targets by 2050. She said: “The plans announced by the PM today make no reference to energy efficiency – perhaps the most urgent of all infrastructure priorities – that can create jobs right around the country, improve health and reduce costs to NHS, and increase consumer spending power by lowering energy bills.”
Source: Construction News
Air sealing is the process of restricting air movement through tiny cracks and gaps in your house. When you run heating or ventilation in your home this builds pressure. If leaks and gaps are present it can transfer conditioned air to the outside reducing efficiency. Air leakage can account for around 30% of a home’s heating costs. Air sealing prevents the loss of this conditioned air by filling in the tiny cracks and gaps.
A massive amount of energy is wasted due to the air leaking from cracks, holes and gaps in your house. This can cause several issues in your house spanning from thousands of pounds worth of repairs to medical issues. You can protect your home and family by air sealing your home. This will prevent high energy costs and create a comfortable living environment.
How Air Leakage Affects your Home?
Air leakage not only affects energy loss but also contributes to house deterioration. Obvious air leakages will be easy to spot and easily resolved; however, hidden air leakages are the root problem and can be harder to find and treat. Air that leaks must be replaced and is usually drawn in from the ground. If you don’t have an effective vapour barrier, moisture can be absorbed causing mould development, water damage or animal infestations. Moisture can enter your home using the tiniest gaps. This can aid in the damage of your home’s foundations.
How to Air Seal your Home
Depending on the location, cracks can be sealed with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping. In general, you should apply caulk to cracks no smaller than ¼ of an inch and foam for anything larger though exceptions can vary. To see whether your home needs air sealing, you should perform a check of the following areas in your home:
- Windows and Doors – Apply a low expanding foam insulation around the frame, caulk at the frame and drywall intersection and consider adding storm panels to single pane units.
- Pipes/Vents/Exhausts/Air Intakes – Caulk around the perimeter of all penetrations to the outside walls.
- Trim – Caulk around the perimeter.
- Windows and Doors – Caulk at frame and drywall, install weather stripping if needed. Add insulation or weather stripping to loft access panels.
- Baths and Showers – Caulk around the bath or shower and wall intersection and around the plumbing fixture perimeter.
- Plugs and Switches – Apply low expanding foam around the perimeter of the electrical box.
- Lights – Apply caulk around the light trim
- Trim – Caulk around the trim
- Pipes and Ductwork – Caulk all wall penetrations, insulate hot and cold pipes, tape duct joints and seams and insulate ducts in any unconditioned spaces.
- Fireplace – Keep damper closed when fireplace isn’t being used or install glass gasketed doors to the opening of the fireplace.
- Basements and Crawl Spaces – Caulk or foam the foundation wall and rim joist intersection and seal any cracks in the wall.
What are the Benefits of Air Sealing?
- Energy Efficiency – The energy consumption of your house usually depends on the age of it. New houses are built with energy efficiency in mind, whereas older houses can tend to use a lot more. Both new and old houses can benefit from air sealing but the changes in efficiency to older houses can be dramatic with anything upto a 50% saving on energy expenses.
- Increase of Indoor Air Quality – Fresh outdoor air is a good way of increasing indoor air quality; however, this should be controlled using a ventilation system and not through cracks and gaps in your home. These gaps are uncontrolled and can carry moisture, pollution and allergen into your home causing a whole host of problems including medical issues like asthma and allergies.
- Prevent Mould Deterioration Around your Home – Mould spores travel through the air and can be traced pretty much anywhere. They can be taken along by the wind and end up in all sorts of nooks and crannies of your house including attics, basements and crawl spaces. If the tiny cracks and gaps in your home aren’t filled and these spores mix with the moisture that has infiltrated into your home mould will begin to appear in these spaces. Air sealing maintains these areas of your home causing them to be dry and prevent the spread of mould.
- Increase a Comfortable Environment in your Home – Cracks and gaps in your home can cause drafts, noticeable temperature differences in rooms and cold floors and walls. This can create a very unpleasant living environment which can be made infinitely better by air sealing.
- Prevents House Deterioration – Toxins, pollution and mould can all impact on your home’s foundations. Air sealing will prevent all of these particles from entering your loft and crawl spaces causing water damage, vermin infestations and mould development.
- Cost Effective – Making air sealing repairs is relatively inexpensive and starts saving you money as soon as it’s done. Your energy bills will improve, along with your air quality and your peace of mind that you will not need to pay out on unnecessary repairs due to air leakage.
Broadsword Group are experts in Air Sealing for our residential and commercial customers to find out how we can help you seal your property or project contact us today.
Passive fire protection has been implemented since the 17th century. During the Great Fire of London, in 1666, it was proved that the wooden construction of the surrounding buildings had exacerbated the blaze contributing to the destruction of 13,200 houses, 87 churches, 52 livery company halls and obliterating the city’s infrastructure.
In response to this, King Charles II instructed for all buildings to be made of stone and for the roads to be widened. In addition to this, the government introduced the 1667 London Building Act, which, among its laws, stipulated that buildings be constructed with masonry to resist the break out of fire and prevent the spread of it. It was thought that passive fire protection was created at this time.
Whilst building regulations have improved significantly since the 17th century, there is still more work to be done to ensure that correct modern standards are correctly implemented. According to Home Office statistics, the number of fires that the Fire Services have to attend and the number of deaths that are caused by fire related incidents are increasing.
The Importance of Passive Fire Protection
Passive fire protection is built into the walls and floors of buildings to separate them into areas of manageable risk. Each area is able to prevent the spread of the fire to other areas. The idea is that the fire is contained long enough in one of these areas for occupants to evacuate from the building and for the fire brigade to fight the fire.
Most products of passive fire protection resist the fire instead of fight it. Fire resistance is achieved through constructions such as columns, walls, floors and doors. Each of these constructions will be able to resist fires in one of three ways:
- resist structural collapse
- resist heat conduction
- resist the passage of smoke and noxious gases
All floors in a building must have components that resist fires in all three ways.
Passive Fire Protection in High Rise Residential Buildings
In the event of a fire, high rise buildings are designed to provide fire resistance that ensures the prevention of the fire spreading from where it originated. This can only be relied upon if the fire resistant materials were compliant with building regulations at the time of construction and they have been properly maintained and managed throughout their lifetime.
Due to the reliance of a high-rise building’s passive fire protection, residents are asked to stay put in the event of a fire breaking out. This is thought to be the safest option for them as the alternative may see residents leave their place of safety. Unfortunately, as we know in the recent events of Grenfell, the stay put method can only be relied upon if the appropriate passive fire protection is installed. If it isn’t, it can prove fatal as it did that day when 71 people tragically lost their lives.
Passive Fire Protection and the Law
Building owners who own property that do not pass regulations are now able to be prosecuted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 with some sentences going as far as being custodial. Since this came to pass, more emphasis has been placed on buildings being compliant.
Under the Buildings Regulations of England and Wales, contractors have the responsibility of handing over appropriate fire safety information to a ‘responsible person’ on completion of the building or extension of the building and it first being occupied.
Furthermore, the fire safety information given should include all design measures in appropriate detail and accurate enough so the ‘responsible person’ understands what they need to do to maintain the building safely. Building work should have been completed with adequate and proper materials sufficient for their intended use.
Despite the specific detail that these regulations go into, it is very common for built in passive fire materials, to not be compliant.
Currently, the construction of a residential building requires the input and expertise of many fields – from architects to fire engineers to contractors. Throughout the process, the building undergoes many inspections to ensure compliance. In her interim report into the Grenfell fire, Dame Judith Hackitt acknowledged that it is therefore difficult to focus the blame for non compliance on one specific area.
She recommended in her report that there is a process change and that duty holders be tasked with ensuring compliance to a new body made up of the Health and Safety Executive, Local Authority and Fire and Rescue Professionals. This new body would be called the Joint Competent Body.
If this were adopted and implemented, it would ensure not only that more residential buildings were constructed compliantly but be able to sanction duty holders if they weren’t.
Further Incentive for Getting Things Right
Passive fire protection items that are condemned at handover or any time after fall on the responsibility of the construction company to correct. Items that are enclosed within the building can be extremely costly to repair possibly resulting in the loss of millions of pounds. This would undoubtedly bring its own financial implications.
Small changes to attitudes and processes could reap significant improvements in passive fire protection compliance.
It is important for the sake of a building’s fire compartmentalisation that drawings are understood accurately and that architects are encouraged to be more specific of what design and materials are used.
Principal contractors should be discouraged from splitting passive fire protection into different sub-contracted packages. This method could lead to a lack of focus and could result in non-compliance.
Over the years, it has become more and more apparent that buildings need appropriate fire protection. This means a bit more than the usual fire extinguisher and smoke detection systems that people usually think about when considering fire protection. These two elements are part of a bigger protection system that are mandatory in buildings at all times. There are two types of fire protection: Active Fire Protection (AFP) and Passive Fire Protection (PFP). One type of protection must not be chosen over the other. Both AFP and PFP should be used alongside one another for full fire protection in your building. It is important to understand both types so that you are confident that they are both present in your building.
What are Active and Passive Fire Protection Systems?
Active fire protection systems consist of elements such as water sprinkler systems. These are widely used in buildings to protect the storage of vessels, process plants and warehouses. The job of the active fire protection system is to extinguish or control the fire or provide adequate exposure protection to prevent a domino effect. For some buildings, foam pourers or mixed water monitors may be a more appropriate method than sprays or sprinklers. Other specialised systems include the use of inert or halogen based gases which are used for flooding enclosed spaces.
Passive fire protection systems are used for protecting against building failure. It generally consists of a coating of fire resistant insulating media generally applied to a steel surface. It is often used where water or other active fire protection systems are inadequate such as remote locations. Fire walls are another form of passive fire protection that are used to prevent the spread of a fire and the exposure of equipment to thermal radiation. An important requirement of deciding which fire protection system to use in each part of the building is the likely duration of the exposure to fire as passive fire protection is only effective for a short time (typically 1-2 hours).
The owner of the building must be able to demonstrate that it has an effective plan for the fighting and containment of a fire if it were to break out. The following factors should be considered when determining whether active or passive fire methods are required.
- Fire hazard caused by substances
- Toxicity of substances and the smoke that is produced
- Inventory size
- The frequency of hazardous operations undertaken on site
- The distance to other hazardous installations
- Available access to fight any possible fire
- Fire fighting capability of on site emergency response team
- Response time of nearest fire brigade
- Resources available to nearest fire brigade
Design of System
Active fire fighting systems need to be reliable and the design should demonstrate this. The designs of these systems should conform to standards such as the Health and Safety Executive’s BS 5306 Code of Practice for extinguishing installation and equipment.
As part of these standards, valves and cabling for the system should be a safe distance from any hazardous installation and should be able to withstand the effects of fire and heat. The system should be supplied by a secure water supply which should include back up diesel pumps where appropriate and it must ensure that the active fire protection system is not starved of water due to other demands on the water supply system during a fire.
The Choice of Fire Fighting Media
The selection of your fire fighting media will depend on what you are wanting it to do. This may be to extinguish the fire, control the fire or provide exposure protection. The types of fire fighting media are:
- Inert gases
- Chemical Powders
Water is not recommended for low flash point liquids but is used widely for fire control and exposure protection. Foam is more effective for low flash point substances and is used widely on liquid fires. There are various types of foam but the most common is protein foam. Specific foams have been formulated to fight specific fires such as solvent based or to improve extinguishing properties. Active fire protection systems can deliver agents such as inert gases, chemical powders and halogen based gases. A common use for these are in control panels and switch rooms; however, there has been less use of halon based media over the years due to its impact on the environment.
The Choice of Passive Fire Protection
There are a number of passive fire protection systems to choose from including:
- Mortar based coating
- Intumescent coating
- Sublimation coating
- Mineral fibre matting
- Earth mounds
Protective based systems are normally sprayed on to the surfaces. A reinforced glass fibre scrim or steel wire gauze is applied to prevent cracking of the coating under fire conditions and provides additional strength to resist the power of high pressure water jets frequently used by the fire brigade. It is further protected by a weather protective top layer. The performance of the fire resistance of the coating is dependent on its thickness. Fire walls are sometimes installed in process and storage areas to prevent the spread of fire and protect equipment from thermal radiation. Firewalls are normally built from brick, concrete or masonry and the number of openings in them should be kept to a minimum.
Active and passive fire protection systems, together are important to a building’s overall fire safety. AFP uses systems that actively try to put out a fire, whilst PFP prevents the spread of fire and smoke. Just because one is installed and working does not mean you don’t need the other. AFP takes action in putting out a fire but should not be relied upon solely. There are times, particularly during the winter, that sprinkler systems often fail due to frozen pipes, roads could become icy and water supplies could freeze which all delay a firefighter from doing their job. PFP compartmentalises a building into smaller sections to prevent the spread of fire and smoke, while also providing occupants enough time to evacuate. As effective as this is, PFP is not effective by itself either. Therefore, to ensure total fire protection, both systems must work together in unison.
Congratulations to Mick Dixon for receiving Inland Homes Tradesman of the month award!
Passive fire protection (PFP) is an essential component of structural fire protection and fire safety in a building. PFP attempts to contain a fire or prevent the fire from spreading to other parts of the building by the use of fire-resistant walls, floors and doors. A fire protection system for any building will have the following:
- Active Fire Protection – Manual or automatic fire detection or suppression
- Passive Fire Protection – Compartmentalising the building with fire resistance walls and floors. Organising the building into smaller fire compartments prevents or slows the spread of fire from its origin to other spaces in the building. This will limit the potential damage to the building and it gives the building occupants time to initiate their emergency evacuation drill and for them to get to safety.
- Fire Prevention – Minimising potential situations that a fire could break out and educating the occupants of the building on fire safety systems and how they should be maintained and emergency procedures including how to notify fire service response and emergency evacuation.
Any surface that is used for fire resistance is required to have a fire rating. Surfaces are rated by being fire tested where surfaces are exposed to temperatures upwards of 1100°C. Many of these tests are undertaken to test the survivability of the surfaces under realistic conditions.
A lot of Passive Fire Protection systems use many different materials in the design and construction of their systems. Most common endothermic building materials include calcium silicate board, concrete and gypsum wallboard. During fire testing, concrete slabs have been known to emit water as they boil and gypsum commonly loses all its strength when exposed to fire. The use of endothermic materials is established and proven to be sound engineering practice. The chemically bound water inside these materials sublimes. During this process, the unexposed side cannot exceed the boiling point of water. Once the hydrates are spent, the temperature on the unexposed side of an endothermic fire barrier tends to rise rapidly. Too much water can be a problem, however. Concrete slabs that are too wet, will literally explode in a fire, which is why test laboratories insist on measuring water content of concrete and mortar in fire test specimens, before running any fire tests.
PFP measures also include the use of intumescent (a substance that swells under heat exposure) or ablative materials. Any of these surfaces on their own would not be effective against exposure to fire and so need to be organised into a highly effective system that is subject to rigorous testing at multiple times.
Passive Fire Protection is designed to contain the fire in its place of origin, preventing the spread of fire and smoke for a limited amount of time. Firestops, fire walls and fire doors undergo the above-mentioned fire testing and fire resistance is usually determined in how many hours these particularly materials can contain the fire for. Their certification will provide the limitations that are present with these materials.
Unlike Active Fire Protection, Passive Fire Protection does not usually involve any form of activation or degree of motion with the exception of fire dampers and fire door closers which must move, open and shut in order to function as well as all intumescent products which rely on swelling to operate effectively.
There are mainly two types of Passive Fire Protection; intumescent and vermiculite. With vermiculite protection, the structural steel members are covered in a thick layer of hydrous phyllosilicate mineral that undergoes significant expansion when heated. This is a cheaper option to the intumescent materials but is not aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, if the environment is corrosive, then the vermiculite is not advisable as there is a possibility of water seeping into it and will make it difficult to monitor corrosion. Intumescent fire protection is a layer of paint with a coating system along the structural steel members. The thickness of this coating depends on the steel section used. Intumescent coating is relatively low in thickness which makes it more pleasing to the eye and produces a nice finish with an anti-corrosive nature.
In the event of a fire in a building, the steel structure will eventually collapse once the steel hits its critical core temperature of around 550°C. Passive fire protection will delay this by creating a layer between the steel and the fire. This can potentially add another 2 hours to the integrity of the structure saving lives and damage to property inside the building.
If you require a competent fully accredited fire protection company, you have just found it! Broadsword Fire Protection LTD welcomes your enquiries.
NICE has published guidance, ‘Indoor air quality at home’, arguing that since we spend 90 per cent of our lives inside, poor air quality within our structures is an imminent risk to everyone’s health. The document issues recommendations to a range of stakeholders, including local authorities, healthcare professionals, and ventilation specialists.
Mr Macklin, group technical director at Elta Group, commented: “There has been significant research into the impact of bad air quality in our buildings, especially as the insulation of structures reduces levels of natural ventilation. Sick building syndrome has made an unwelcome return and the link between CO2 and concentration levels in schools is alarming.
“However, it is in homes that we spend most of our time – about 60 per cent according to NICE’s guidelines – and it is crucial that we raise awareness of the problems associated with bad domestic air quality. We are at a critical juncture and as emerging technologies equip us with means to make our homes healthier, we have a responsibility to do so.”
The guidelines emphasise the full range of this culpability, identifying opportunities for local authorities to understand the sources and symptoms of poor indoor air quality and what actions to take should they encounter it. It also contains advice for healthcare professionals, highlighting those who are most at risk and suggesting practical steps to overcome the adverse effects of pollutants.
However, it is in the building, renovating and refurbishing of homes that there is the greatest opportunity to action change.
Mr Macklin concluded: “Ventilation manufacturers must work closely with architects, designers, builders and developers to ensure homes are provided with the best solutions. From product design through to installation, the focus must be on adopting a whole-house approach to heating and ventilation, taking energy efficiency into account while striving for optimum air quality.
“As we strive to eliminate the major sources of pollutants in the outside world, we must do everything we can to make our homes a healthy sanctuary, and take an intelligent approach to implementing effective ventilation.”