December 2001. Location: Barnsley, South Yorkshire

Building description

Walls were constructed of brick exterior with a blockwork interior at low level and steel framework and 40mm PUR cored insulated panels above. There was a dummy façade around the twin pitched roof that was also constructed of panels.

Some walls at the rear elevation comprised panels with mineral fibre core. The pitched roof was a conventional site assembled roof of profiled steel with glass fibre insulation on a steel framework.

Fire

The fire occurred in the vicinity of the bar and gaming machine lounge on the first floor above the entrance and covered an area of 300m2. Assessment of substantial pieces of timber by the fire service and independent fire consultants clearly indicated that the fire was very intense and liberated significant quantities of heat. photographs 1 shows the panels damaged by the internal fire.

Observations

  • Photograph 2 shows the front elevation and the damaged panels which were located above the seat of the fire. The bottom edge of the fire damaged area was on a line with the top of the internal brickwork walls, illustrating no fire damage or spread below of behind the blockwork.
  • Photograph 2 also illustrates progressively less damage as the distance from the seat of the fire increased. The temporary plywood panels are where fire fighters removed panels in case there was fire spread through the cavity formed by the false frontage. No fire spread was found via this cavity nor within the cladding panels.
  • The extent of the internal damage and the intensity of the fire is shown in photograph 3.
  • The built-up cladding roof immediately above the fire area was damaged and had sagged – photograph 4.

Comments

  • The roof and wall panels in the immediate vicinity of the fire were distorted due to the heat and the buckling of the purlins. There was charring of the core material. Their structural integrity was retained and flames were not seen outside the building.
  • There was no fire spread within the core of the panel.
  • The Tenos Fire Consultants report states that there was no evidence to suggest that the core of the polyurethane panels contributed in any way to the spread of this fire and that there would have been a similar pattern of fire spread irrespective of the type of construction. This view is supported by the fire service.

“From initial observations both on attending the fire and subsequently due to the lack of fire spread through the cavity and within the panels, it is clear that the cladding panels did not contribute to the fire spread of this fire.”

Observation: Sub Officer G Brown. South Yorkshire Fire Service.