February 2003. Location: Shanles Pine, Co Louth

Building description

The building was use for the manufacture and assembly of wooden furniture units. The external walls of the building were solid block walls. The roof construction consisted of PUR cored 40mm thick insulated panels with standard polyurethane core fixed to timber purlins. There was a dividing wall within the building consisting of single skin steel sheeting and translucent sheets.

The building contained an area for spraying the furniture. The perimeter of this area consisted of block walls with two fire doors, one of which was an exit while the other separated the spray room from the adjoining store area. The spray area was fitted with a roof mounted filtered air extraction unit that prevented fumes from the spraying process escaping to the local atmosphere. This unit was made of steel and had a flue attached.

Fire

At approximately 3.30pm Saturday 22nd February a neighbour noticed smoke coming from the spray room area of the building. It is thought that the fire started about 10 –15 minutes before the alarm was raised. The fire brigade were called and arrived at about 3.45pm. At this stage the fire was fully developed. At approx. 4.00pm the fire was under control.

Observations (inside the building)

  • There was extensive damage to the extractor unit. The steel frame had partially collapsed as a result of the fire (photograph 1)
  • The collapse of the frame caused the flue to fall in with it, resulting in the panels in that area deflecting (photograph 2)
  • The timber purlins had extensive damage to them (photograph 3). Even though the purlins were badly damaged the roof did not collapse
  • There was a line of panel that was directly over a compartment wall. Part of the panel was in the spray room the remainder in the adjoining storeroom. There was no fire spread through the panel from the spray room to the storeroom (photographs 4 & 5).

Observations (outside the building)

  • Plastisol had delaminated from the steel (photograph 6)
  • Panel side laps remained intact
  • End laps had opened slightly
  • One panel had bowed slightly across its width. This allowed the flames to escape to the outside but as shown in photograph 7 there is only smoke damage to the exposed insulation
  • There was exposed timber purlins which had severe fire damage yet the insulation material of the panel was in good condition and had only charred slightly thus preventing further damage to the insulation by the fire (photograph 8).

Comments

The standard polyurethane insulated Roof Panels performed extremely well. The fire was contained within the spray room until the “fire door” failed. The panels did not allow the fire to spread within the insulation core to the adjoining rooms.

“We were impressed that the panels stood up so well to the fire and contained it to just one room. As a result of this fire we have a better understanding of the fire performance of these panels and would question the hype regarding these panels.”

Comments from Kellagher Insurance and Hibernian Insurance.