February 2002. Location: IP Europe, Co Wexford

Building description

Link unit between two manufacturing units, which manufacture a wide range of rapping films i.e. silage bale rapping and shrink rapping for packaging.

The link unit was constructed of a steel portal frame with horizontal cold rolled rail and purlins. 40mm standard urethane cored panels were used on the roof and walls. The curved eaves consisted of flat internal lining sheet, insulation and 35mm RW profile single skin.

The link unit, which was used for processing work, was connected on one side to a manufacturing building constructed with 40mm polyurethane cored panel, approximately 10 years old. The second manufacturing unit on the other side was an older building approximately 20 years old constructed using 26mm thick polyurethane cored panels (see Photograph 1).

Fire

At about 12.30am as a result of a machine going on fire in the link unit, the fire brigade were called. They were already at a domestic fire so they did not arrive on the premises until 40 minutes later by which time the fire was fully established. At approx. 3.30am the fire was under control. Photographs 2 and 3 illustrate the fire damage where the link unit adjoined to the main manufacturing units.

Observations

  • Extremely high fire load due to the amount of plastics in the area, therefore the level of fire damage within the structure was high
  • Fire did not penetrate or spread to the adjoining buildings
  • All structural and secondary steel has twisted and warped
  • The fire was kept in so well that the adjoining roof did not suffer any damage to the external skin
  • Both types of panel, which were supplied some 10 and 20 years ago, performed extremely well with no fire spread through the core
  • A partition wall had been constructed from panels between the link unit and the main building. Although not designed as a firewall the panels acted effectively as a barrier to the fire. (Photograph 4).

Comments

The insulated panels manufactured with standard polyurethane cores performed exceptionally well despite a high fire load and a fully developed fire.