Making façades may soon become much cheaper. BASIC Expert conducted an ad-hoc test to understand and assess the vertical flame spread of a bespoke wall system. The test, which cost about $100,000 to stage, may lead to an alternate way of undertaking rectification of buildings with non-compliant panels that are deemed a fire hazard.
ACP Panels Test Set Up
The façade testing was undertaken in a testing facility on the 19th and 24th of May 2021. A series of three tests was conducted to understand and assess the vertical flame spread of a bespoke wall system. The test wall mock-up was approximately 4 m high and 1.2 m wide. The ACP panels used were 100% polyethylene and were the actual panels extracted from site which were housed and manufactured within the identical aluminium framing. The ACP panels onsite were separated vertically by a meter wide concrete spandrel and we used metal-framed Promat boards to replicate the non-combustible concrete spandrel.
The as-built condition involves ACP panels which are arranged as single panels or in pairs, with windows or balconies separating the panels horizontally. The fire scenario simulated is one where a fire coming out from the adjacent window or balcony, with a wind-induced flame blowing against the panel causing an ignition to the bottom part of the ACP panel. The ignition source used was a propane burner with a heat output of 100kW/300kW with instrumentations installed throughout the height of the test wall to monitor the reaction of the specimen to this fire condition. The intent of the test is to assess the vertical fire spread characteristics of this wall system and whether the ignition of one panel separated by the same distance and offsets as the as-built conditions will cause ignition of the panel above.
Our engineer, Allyssa Estacio, managed this project from start to finish! A great outcome from all her hard work. The test was instrumented and developed in conjunction with Dr. Kate Nguyen Senior Lecturer, RMIT University.