Following the 2019 update to the approved document of English Building regulations part B, at the start of 2020 the National House Building Council (NHBC) begun enforcing new fire test requirements for downlights. This applied specifically to Engineered I-Joists and Metal Web Joists applications. Here we look at what this means and why it is so important that downlights are rigorously tested.
When constructing a building, safety is paramount. None more so than in the event of a fire. This is why fire-resistant barriers are put in place. Fire-resistant ceilings, floors and walls slow the spread of fire, making the safe evacuation of the building possible. But what happens when a hole is cut into one of these potentially life-saving barriers to fit a recessed downlight? This is exactly the question that fire testing downlights answers.
FIRE RATINGS EXPLAINED
A fire rating is how long the fire barrier maintains its integrity, preventing the spread of fire. These barriers, such as floors and ceilings, commonly have a fire rating of 30, 60 or 90 minutes.
When a downlight is fire rated it has been tested in a ceiling and floor structure and been found to not negatively affect its fire resistance. For example, a 30-minute fire-rated downlight will have been tested in a 30-minute ceiling, demonstrating that the structural integrity of the ceiling is not affected by the inclusion of the light.
In addition to the above points, it is worth bearing in mind that these ceilings and floors can potentially have different constructions and use different joists in their makeup. As a result, in order for them to ensure the property, the NHBC (or any other home construction and warranty provider) requires evidence that the inclusion of downlights in the specific ceiling structure used by the developer maintains its fire rating.
GREEN LIGHTING’S RESPONSE
Green Lighting has always taken these requirements very seriously and in fact were pioneers of the first-ever fire tested downlights, the Snaplite, designed back in 1997. As such we have always ensured that our downlights are periodically fire tested. Our full range of downlights was tested in November 2019 by a UKAS accredited test centre based in the UK using joists from market-leading manufacturers.
Not only have our downlights been tested using engineered I-Joists but also Metal Web and Solid Timber Joists. This means our downlights have the fire rating required for domestic builds across all joist types currently being used in British construction.
In addition to this, since the confusion caused in early 2020, Green Lighting has been working closely with both the NHBC and IFC (International Fire Consultants) and with their guidance and instruction we have carried out two further tests. We take pride in supporting the UK’s housebuilders. Our commitment to testing our downlights with the floor constructions used on site is second to none. Our rigorous testing gives you peace of mind across the widest range of applications in UK construction.
If you require any further information regarding any of the points covered in this blog or our fire-rated downlights, please get in touch and one of our team will be happy to help.