The impact of major events on the construction industry, resulting in loss of life, cannot be understated. These incidents have drawn immediate attention to the hugely pressing issues of concern around health and safety, and whilst the immediate focus has been centred around specific incidents, the implications of all catastrophic events continue to be felt across the entire supply chain.
Products and specification are being considered in micro detail. In an industry that very broadly valued cost over any other factor, safety was and is now taking precedent and each trade has been forced to scrutinise the products that they use and the processes followed.
Within the mechanical and electrical industry, a safety-first approach has generally been employed, however, sourcing and specifying products that can ultimately slow down and protect the fabrication of a building in the event of a fire are now considered crucial. Product manufacturers including ourselves are forced to look at our current ranges and consider what protection they have and how this translates to performance and protection during real time emergencies.
David Mattin, Managing Director at Dietzel Univolt explained: “We launched our Low Smoke Fume (LSF) and Low Smoke Flame Zero Halogen (LSFOH) ranges a number of years ago and broadly received a luke warm reaction from the industry who failed to recognise the cost justification when margins where already being squeezed. We understood this notion but continued to develop and market the product, educating the market place and explaining how and why these products are an important specification of choice.
“Major catastrophic events have essentially flipped this notion on its head. Contractors are now proactively seeking out products that offer premium protection which they can present to the main contractor who in turn can present to the end user. The interest in our LSFOH has escalated and this continues to intensify.”
Univolt currently offers three distinct products our standard PVC and PVC/LSF range, and LSFOH under the trademarked HFT brand. PVC-LSF offers a higher ignition point of up to 15% than standard PVC, the halogens it contains are released at a slower rate therefore smoke release is also reduced by up to 60% in the first 4 minutes of a fire than that of standard PVC.
LSFOH, Low Smoke & Fume Zero Halogen conduits are not only characterised by the fire- retardant performance but also by the halogen-free properties, thus offering low corrosive and toxic emissions. During a fire, LSFOH conduits will emit less smoke and acid gases, 90% less smoke and zero halogens which may affect human health and damage expensive communications equipment.
David added: “With relatively little price differentiator between PVC and PVC- LSF, and with very few other manufacturers offering this specification, it’s easy to see why so many are making the switch.
“Moving forward, the contractor must be more open to new applications and products, shifting what has been for many years a traditional mind-set that followed a pattern of specification. As an industry we must react to needs and demands of our clients as well as external influences that will ultimately drive our industry direction.
“Product development, investment and innovation from a manufacturing perspective has never been more vital. Our buildings must not only be safe but sustainable and efficient. We must develop products that meet modern needs and expectations exceeding compliance guidelines and providing premium safety.”