Regular doormats in communal hallways are sometimes categorised as a fire hazard. Some building managers have completely done away with such doormats and now install flame-retardant ones to ensure a safer environment.
Stringent European Union (EU) standards apply to construction products used in the UK, and in the floor coverings sector there is a standard that relates to fire testing. EN 13501-1 consists of four European ‘reaction to fire’ test methods that can be applied to floor coverings but for textile, resilient and laminate floors EN ISO 11925-2 and EN ISO 9239-1 are the most important test methods for classification purposes. Make sure that you purchase flame-retardant doormats that meet the required standards for your business.
The tests determine how easily a vertically placed test product will ignite by using what is known as a small burner method. The test product’s surface and/or edges are exposed to a flame in a combustion chamber for 15 seconds. The classes D fl and E fl are satisfied if the flame does not reach 150mm above the flame impingement point in less than 20 seconds classifying it as normally flammable. If this test fails it is classified as easily flammable which is F fl class.
To obtain a B fl and C fl class, which classifies them as flame-retardant, the test product needs to pass a radiant panel test. These assess the burning behaviour of a horizontally placed test product that is exposed to a radiant heat source and then ignited with a pilot flame.
If the specifications of those tests are met then the floor coverings are in accordance with EN 13501-1.
Here are the different classes of flammability and their criteria by which floor covering is judged. fl is used to mean flooring in the table.
- A1 fl– only achieved by non-flammable floor coverings which do not present any risk in terms of smoke formation.
- A2 fl– Only achieved by non-flammable floor coverings with low levels of organic binding agents.
- B fl– Radiation intensity of 8 kW/m2 = flame-retardant construction products.
- C fl– Comparable with German B1 classification. Radiation intensity of 4.5 kW/m2 = flame-retardant construction products.
- D fl– Radiation intensity here only 3 kW/m2 = normally flammable construction products.
- E fl– Small burner test = normally flammable construction products.
- F fl– No requirements made, no test = easily flammable construction products.
The lower the classification goes the more flammable the material is, and the more unsuitable it is for use in an environment where fire safety is key.
A1 fl and B1 fl classes are impossible to satisfy with most doormat materials and anything that is classified D fl and F fl is considered a fire risk for use in most places. This leaves B fl s1 and C fl s1 classes as most suitable for commercial uses.
Apart from tests relating to flammability there are others to check how much smoke is produced by the product. If it produces a lot of smoke, it is considered a danger to human health and may pose a fire hazard in a fire emergency. This is why it is important to check the results of smoke tests as well as how flammable the product is when specifying door mats for your premises.