The reaction to fire of construction products in accordance with the Euroclass system
Testing for the Euroclass system is performed in accordance with test methods, defined in harmonised European standards published by the European Standardization body, CEN. Products are also classified in accordance with a European standard (EN 13501-1), which differs from the Swedish system that has been used up to now, under which classification has been based on guidelines published by Sweden's National Board of Housing, Building and Planning. A product with a fire classification obtained under the above harmonised standards can then be CE-marked if other properties specified in the Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC) have also been verified. Application of the Directive is controlled by several harmonised standards published by CEN, to which the Directive refers. See the EU link on the right.
After CE-marking of any particular product has come into force, national systems may be retained only during a transition period (normally of one year). One of the effects of this is that, in many cases, the Swedish fire reaction classes for surface coverings (I, II and III), together with floor covering Class G, are no longer valid for products that can be CE-marked.
The Euroclass system for construction products affects mainly surface covering materials, insulation materials, floor coverings, pipe insulation materials and cables. The product groups are all treated in a similar manner. Certain class boundaries for surface coverings, pipe insulations and cables are based almost entirely on Swedish work and Swedish contributions to the broader field of harmonisation. Surface covering materials and products are classified by the FIGRA (FIre Growth RAte) index, developed by SP. You can read more about FIGRA and the technical background to the Euroclass system in "The Development of a European Fire Classification System for Building Products: Test Methods and Mathematical Modelling", by Björn Sundström. See link on the right.
Fire reaction classes for surface coverings are divided into seven main classes: A1, A2, B, C, D, E and F, which relate to the hitherto used Swedish classes as follows.
Examples of classes for materials, surface linings, pipe insulation and cables
A1 (non-combustible material)
A2-s1, d0 (limited combustibility material)
B-s1, d0 (Class I surface lining)
C-s2, d0 (Class II surface lining)
D-s2, d0 (Class III surface lining)
A1fl (non-combustible floor covering material)
Cfl -s1 (Class G floor covering for exit routes)
Dfl -s1 (Class G floor covering for meeting halls and similar)
BL -s1, d0 (pipe insulation)
B1CA -S1, d0, a1 (cables)
The conditions for fulfilling the requirements of a particular class can be complicated, and the overall consequences for classification of building materials will not be totally clear until the system has been in operation for a while. Tables 1 and 2 show the criteria for Euroclasses for surface linings and floor coverings as published by the European Commission. Table 3 shows the criteria for pipe insulation, and Table 4 shows them for cables.
Fire resistance of building elements
Testing the fire resistance of a building element involves determining its behaviour when exposed to a particular temperature, normally that representing a fire in an enclosed space (a room). Fire resistance is one of several properties of the structure/product, and thus is not simply a property of the specific materials used in the structure or product. The product or structure can then be classified in terms of the relevant fire reaction.
How to test and classify a product under the European system
SP is accredited to test products in accordance with the relevant EN standards. Most of the test methods for materials are new in comparison with the hitherto used Swedish methods, although those for building elements are quite similar to them. On successful completion of the tests, we issue a test report and a classification report. Apart from the classification report system, which is new, there is no greater difference in comparison with the present system. The classification report system is perhaps a little more formal, as it is intended to be applied at European level, covering more than 30 countries. However, individual products may be classified differently from today. If the product or element is being tested as part of the process of obtaining CE approval, additional properties (over and above fire properties) will have to be tested, involving sampling of the products and establishment/approval of manufacturing testing and inspection procedures. This can be arranged through our Certification Department (see the link on the right).
The European system may seem complicated, but it is not necessary to know every single part of it in detail. We have put together a 'Europackage' that includes most of what's involved.
You can also find other information via the links on the right.
• Our guide for more comprehensive information on Euroclasses, test methods, CE-marking etc.
• SUNDSTRÖM, Björn, “The Development of a European Fire Classification System for Building Products: Test Methods and Mathematical Modelling”, PhD Thesis, Lund University, Department of Fire Safety Engineering, ISBN 987-91-628-7243-4, 2007.
• SUNDSTRÖM, Björn, "Euroclasses in Swedish building regulations - A comparison between Swedish and European fire reaction classes for construction products", 2001, 50 pages, report 2001:29, ISBN 91-7848-873-7. [In Swedish.]
• SUNDSTRÖM, Björn, VAN HEES, Patrick and THURESON, Per. "Results and Analysis from Fire Tests of Building Products in ISO 9705, the Room/Corner Test", The SBI Research Programme, 1998, 33 pages, SP report 1998:11. ISBN 91-7848-716-1.
• SUNDSTRÖM, Björn., AXELSSON, Jesper, "Development of a common European system for fire testing of pipe insulation based on EN 13823 (SBI) and ISO 9705 (Room/Corner Test)", SP report 2002:21. ISBN 91-7848-871-0.
• Hakkarainen Tuula, Messerschmidt Birgitte, Hansen Anne Sten, Thureson Per., "Comparison of Nordic Classification System for Surface Linings and Floor Coverings with the EU Euroclasses for Surface Linings and Floor Coverings., SP Report 1998:20.
• 600 °C: the behaviour of building materials during the early stage of a fire. Video produced by SP, the Swedish Rescue Service Agency (now the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency) and Brandskyddslaget.
• The room fire. Video produced by SP. The progress of a room fire. The European classification system presented by an EU official . DVD , in English, German and French.
The Construction Products Directive
One of the main purposes of the Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC) was to facilitate free movement of construction products throughout the EU. The Directive contains six important requirements applicable to the finished building. One of these is safety in the event of fire, which means that classification of the fire properties of construction products must be based on the same standards throughout the EU. Member countries requiring some particular level of protection against fire can then identify the necessary level from the published fire reaction classes. Products that comply with the important requirements of the Directive can be CE-marked. The Directive can work only if various specifications, to which it refers, are available. In the field of fire, it is the definitions of fire classes, harmonised test methods and declarations of conformity that are important specifications of this type. Details of the European fire classes, and the rules for declaration of conformity, are published by the European Commission, while harmonised test standards are published by CEN and ISO.
Public authorities, notified bodies and standardisation organisations
Fire standards are published by CEN (the European Committee for Standardization). CEN develops test methods that are based on specifications that are identified by mandates issued by the EU Commission. On behalf of the Commission, the Expert Group Fire (EGF) has prepared the actual basis of the European fire classification and testing system, and is continuing work on further developing the system. The Swedish representative on EGF is SP's Björn Sundström.
There are now many products that qualify for CE-marking, and others can be classified under the Euroclass system, which means that practice is being developed governing interpretation of the test and classification rules. Such interpretations are made by the 'Fire Sector Group', which consists of organisations that have been notified for testing and/or certification, such as SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. Björn Sundström is SP's representative on the Fire Sector Group.