Fire safety warning reissued over pre-insulated pipes

Fire safety pre-insulated pipes
BESA and the BPF said the pre-insulated plastic pipe seen here, used for underground pipe runs such as district heating, should not be used for internal applications

A fire safety warning for pre-insulated pipes has been reissued by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the British Plastics Federation (BPF).

The warning aims to clarify an earlier alert in July as some initial press coverage featured the wrong type of pipework.

Pipework designed for underground use is increasingly being used inside buildings, where they may not be suitable, potentially compromising fire safety and performance and possibly in breach of building regulations.

Yet the trade bodies warned that using pipework in this way is a “fundamental change” in product application.

Wide range of pipes

BESA and the BPF highlighted that there are a wide range of these pipes on the market, made in different thicknesses and using a variety of insulation materials. Therefore, they advise any insulated pipework used inside a building should be approved by the design team to ensure compliance. And contractors should seek confirmation of suitability from manufacturers.

Of particular concern is where pre-insulated pipe goes from an outside environment into a building. BESA’s head of technical Graeme Fox said: “It is also absolutely essential that any pre-insulated pipes entering a building are properly protected from damage and terminated correctly to contain the insulation and retain the fire integrity of the outer sheath.”

Specialist fire-stopping advice

Fox added: “Installers should seek specialist fire-stopping advice and evidence that all fire stopping products have been fully tested and third-party certified where relevant. The installation must maintain the integrity of the specified fire performance of the combined building fabric and pipe installation.”

The trade bodies said the regular use of coiled flexible polyethylene insulated piping systems, in high-risk settings such as large residential buildings, was particularly worrying.

They added that manufacturers, specifiers, and installers of pre-insulated polyethylene pipework all have a responsibility to provide evidence of suitability for specific applications.

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