Elmelin and IG Masonry: Manufacturing new equipment to ensure safety in construction
On 14 June 2017, a fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in North Kensington, West London, and rapidly spread up the building’s exterior due to the cladding, the external insulation and the air gap. There were 72 fatalities, many of which were children, and many others were injured, making it the deadliest structural fire in the UK since World War II.
A subsequent government enquiry determined that under the building regulations at that time, the disaster should not have happened and this resulted in changes to the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018, including an extension of the combustible materials ban.
On 26 November 2020 further changes to the Building Regulations: Fire safety – Approved Document B also came into effect as part of the on-going response to the Grenfell Tower fire. These changes mean that relevant buildings must comply with stricter standards. As a result, the construction industry and wider engineering industry have been looking at ways of resolving issues around fire protection of buildings, and greatly improving the techniques used to improve safety and avoid tragedies like Grenfell ever happening again.
Elmelin has been active in projects related to high heat applications since 1912, with a specialism in producing solutions that protect and extend the life of the lining of furnaces and kilns. It was natural sidestep for us to look at how our mica-based products could be used to benefit the construction industry.
Partnership with IG Masonry
IG Masonry Support (IGMS) is a division of Europe’s largest manufacturer of steel lintels and masonry support systems. They design, develop, manufacture and supply a range of standard and custom made masonry support and brick slip systems. Their designs are some of the most practical and advanced support systems on the market, offering optimum performance and flexibility.
In 2018, we were contacted by Sebastian Kalinowski, Engineering Manager at IGMS with an idea to combine our expertise and experience in order to design fireproof shims for cladding installation.
At present, relevant buildings under the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 prohibit the use of combustible materials in the external walls. The Regulations state that building work shall be carried out so that materials which become part of an external wall are of European Classification “A2-s1, d0” or the even higher classification of “A1”. However, some construction components are exempt from the combustible materials ban, such as seals, gaskets, fixing, sealants and backer rods, which includes shims.
Sebastian comments: “Even though shims are currently exempt from the combustible materials ban, our commitment to safety and innovation presented a need to ensure that we were a step ahead and prepared for any anticipated changes to the Regulations.
“Combining expertise and experience with Elmelin allowed us to take this idea through various development stages and rigorous testing before confidently producing an A1 fire-rated shim. This now means that every component within our B.O.S.S. A1 (Brick on Soffit System) is fully A1 fire-rated, including exempt components and is future proofed for the removal of any exemptions currently within the Building Regulations.”
Testing of the shim was carried out by Efectis in mid-2021 and in September, Elmelin materials were awarded the prestigious A1 fire rating – meaning that our solutions are non-combustible and do not contribute to fire.
Christian Krauss, Sales Director at Elmelin, comments: “On the back of this initial project, we have engaged in a long-term relationship with IG Masonry Support to jointly manufacture the fireproof shims and to design other products using the materials which will help to improve safety in construction. We have invested in new equipment to enhance and streamline the manufacturing process.”
If you’d like to find out more about our work with IG Masonry Support, and any other construction projects or developments we might be able to assist with, get in touch here.