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Fire safety amendments render 'most high-rise housing flues non-compliant' says manufacturer

Boiler manufacturer Intergas claims combustibility of common PPE flues means they do not meet amended Building Regs

Boiler manufacturer Intergas contends that the legislation brought in following Dame Judith Hackett’s Independent Review of the Building Regs, following the Grenfell fire, renders most flues for high-rise housing noncompliant. The firm says that the Building Regulations (Amendment) 2018, which effectively bans the use of combustible materials on the external walls of new buildings over 18 metres high, does not just apply to cladding but should also apply to flues.

The manufacturer said: “Where we might have thought ‘external wall’ meant cladding, balconies and decking, we’ve had clarification that an ‘external wall’ includes ‘anything located within any space forming part of the wall’. In a nutshell, this amendment effectively renders all boiler installations in high-rise buildings non-compliant as most gas boiler flues are made of polypropylene plastic (PPE), which is classed as a combustible material.”

The firm acknowledges that this ruling might be short-term, because the government is currently conducting a review into whether PPE flues should be exempt, but, it says a decision could yet be months away:

“Meanwhile, high-rise homes require boilers which are compliant,” it says. It notes that the HHIC estimates that of the 1.7 m gas boilers sold in the UK each year, around 20,000 will be installed in high-rise buildings.

Intergas’s publicising of the issues around combustible flues coincides with the contention that it currently sells the only condensing boiler in the UK with a metal flue system. Its Rapid boiler features a flue constructed from galvanised powder coated steel and high grade aluminium, which are classified as A1 in accordance with EN 13501-1, the firm says.

John Lawton, Technical Product Manager for Intergas Boilers, said: “If we are to uphold the findings in Dame Judith Hackitt’s Final Report, then we may have to face a future where plastic flues must be replaced by metal in all high rise buildings.”

 

The impact of the amended Building Regs, and how the Regs should look in the future is one of the key topics at the inaugural H&V News Summit next month.  A New Era of Building Regulations - A Chance for Reform will be discussed by a panel including BESA’s David Frise, CIBSE’s Hywel Davies and contractor Andy Sneyd. For more details see the Summit website.

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