External Wall Insulation

Published Friday, 30th June 2017
External Wall Insulation, council, homes, fire, risk
Rotherham council house with external wall insulation

Following the fire at Grenfell Tower in London the council is providing information about the safety of the council homes with External Wall Insulation (EWI) in the event of a fire.

There are around 1000 Rotherham council homes across the borough that have benefited from External Wall Insulation (EWI) to help improve the thermal efficiency of properties. 

If you take a piece of the insulation which is installed as part of the EWI product it is possible to set fire to it.  However there are a number of steps to the installation process which takes away this risk and provides a finished product which is fire retardant.

The steps include:

Step 1 : Remove and repair any loose or defective concrete or brick work which will provide a solid structure in which to install the EWI to.

Step 2 : Fix the insulation direct to the existing wall finish with special mechanical fixings.

Step 3: Apply a metal mesh over the top of the insulation board.

Step 4: Apply a full coat of fire retardant render to the whole property.

The combination of these four steps provides a product which provides a fire retardant barrier, that has been given a Class 0 rating.  A Class 0 rating protects the surfaces from the spread of flames AND limits the amount of heat released from the surface during a fire.  It is worth noting that Building Regulations, Fire Safety, Part B specifies that this type of rating is only required for buildings 18m or more, however, the Council has gone above and beyond this guidance and provided a class 0 finish on all properties that have received EWI.

The risk of fire spreading via external cladding is extremely low, this is because the insulation is encased in fire retardant materials, in the same way as insulation is sandwiched between bricks in a traditionally built cavity wall property.

In addition to this the EWI installed in Rotherham is a different system to the curtain walling product used at Grenfell Tower and other high risk buildings across the country.  Curtain walling is installed on metal tracks which means that the panels are not flush to the building, early indications are that this style of fitting acts as a chimney which enables flames to take hold of the insulation and spread.

The Council is keeping abreast of the latest developments following the incident at Grenfell Tower and will act accordingly as and when further guidance/legislation is issued.  The Council also has a close working relationship with South Yorkshire Fire Service and we will continue this partnership working to ensure the safety of our tenants.

As a tenant there is also some valuable guidance which will help reduce the risk of fire within your home.  

These include:

1. Smoke alarms save lives, please test your alarm regularly
2. Take extra care in the kitchen and never leave cooking and electrical appliances unattended
3. Never use a chip pan or any other pan filled with hot oil
4. Do not overload electric sockets
5. Keep matches and lighters away from children
6. Keep clothes well away from heaters and fires
7. Put out cigarettes properly
8. Don’t charge things like mobile phones, tablets or e-cigarettes overnight or for longer than required
9. Plan your escape route
10. Don’t leave flammable waste in your garden, especially left in close proximity to your house.