“A step in the right direction but more needs to be done,” is the response from Wrexham Mineral Cables (WMC) following the Government’s announcement that it will hold a review of current systems for testing construction products.
The review comes in the wake of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry which exposed evidence of testing irregularities and potential ‘gaming of the system’ by some manufacturers.
As a leading UK supplier of fire-resistant mineral insulated cables, WMC has been calling for more stringent testing standards as it believes too many cables – which have been installed in buildings across the country – are classified as fire resistant and yet are not fit for purpose in real-life fire scenarios.
Currently, only cables that are more than 20mm must undergo testing for direct impacts to reflect falling debris. And for cables under 20mm, individual certification tests are carried out on different samples of cable.
Steve Williams, Commercial Manager at Wrexham Mineral Cables, comments: “We welcome the Government’s confirmation it will examine ways to strengthen the current system for testing construction products. Such scrutiny is much needed. As an industry, we must be able to provide confidence that products installed, especially in tall buildings or anywhere that requires extended evacuation times, are safe and perform as marketed.
“We believe that this review needs to go much further. Certification testing must show that products are fit for purpose and can stand-up to the rigours of keeping a building safe once they have been installed. Sadly, there are simply too many cables classed as fire resistant but would not be adequate in the event of a fire, as the tests do not represent real-world conditions. It is for this reason that we have lobbied, and will continue to do so, for all enhanced fire-resistant cables to undergo true fire scenario tests. There should be a higher classification of cables introduced to identify those which can survive, rather than simply assessed to resist fire which in most cases do not represent the dynamics of any fire scenario. Ensuring that the tests which construction products are subjected to are relevant and can be relied upon is the only way we can make buildings truly safe.”