Are your entrance mats a fire risk?

Fire safety is an important consideration in the building industry, and everyone involved in construction or property management should choose materials and processes to help prevent fires. This is especially important in multi-tenanted buildings like apartment complexes and retirement/nursing homes, where a fire can quickly spread and put lives at risk.

Many people don’t realise that most entrance mats are not flame-retardant, meaning they can fuel a fire and spread it around the building more quickly. Most building operators and landlords know the risks and will ask tenants to remove mats that aren’t classified as flame-retardant. Learn more about Flame-Retardant Entrance Mats with this guide provided by First Mats.

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Pictured: Flame retardant door mat

Testing and classifications

The classifications and regulations can be complex, but they are designed to help you choose the right materials for your property.

International classifications are designed to ensure that any product or component with a classification marking has been tested to the same standards. Construction products should have been tested and graded against EN 13501-1, the European standard for reaction to fire. The 'fire retardant' marking means the materials have passed testing, including exposure to a naked flame and a radiating heat source. This ensures that the materials will not contribute to the spread of fire and will provide a measure of protection in the event of a fire.

For floor coverings and mats, the potential grades that can be awarded are:

• A1 fl – the ‘fl’ is an abbreviation for ‘floor’; a floor covering with this rating is considered non-flammable with no risk of smoke formation.
• A2 fl – non-flammable floor coverings with low levels of organic binding agents
• B fl – a flame-retardant product that has passed the radiating heat test with an intensity of 8kW/m2
• C fl – a flame-retardant product that has passed the radiating heat test with an intensity of 4.5kW/m2

A1 fl and A2 fl levels cannot be achieved by the vast majority of floor coverings, including vinyl and textiles. When you are looking for matting, you need to keep an eye out for B fl and C fl markings. These both mean that the mats have been tested and classified as fire-retardant.

It’s important to note that fire retardant does not mean the item cannot be set alight. It means that the materials used help to stop the spread of any fire that does manage to take hold.

C fl classifications and below should be considered a fire risk. Using these products can present a danger to anyone in a building where they are installed.

Smoke production

When a fire occurs, smoke can quickly fill a room or hallway, making it difficult for evacuees and firefighters to see and breathe. For this reason, the amount of smoke produced by burning material is an important factor in fire safety. The EN13501-1 standard includes a test to measure the smoke produced by burning material. The smoke is graded on a scale from ‘s1’ to ‘s2’, with ‘s1’ indicating a manageable or acceptable amount of smoke and ‘s2’ meaning that too much smoke is produced. When choosing materials for a building, it is important to look for products with an ‘s1’ smoke rating to ensure that the amount of smoke produced in the event of a fire will not impede evacuations or rescue efforts.

Combining the two grades will give us a marking for the flooring and smoke production. Your mat should be marked as either Bfl-s1 or Cfl-s1.

Types of Fire Retardant Mats

As fire regulations have tightened, finding and fitting an entrance mat with the form and function you want for your building and residents has become more difficult. However, fire-retardant entrance mats are available in a huge range of colours and sizes, with deep piles for comfort, durable finishes for longevity and very respectable dust, dirt and water retention. Check the classifications before purchasing to ensure they will suit your building.

First Mats started life as safety matting specialists but has since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. First Mats focus on providing safety-focused products that improve the well-being of staff through quality-approved products backed up by extensive knowledge.

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