We speak with people everyday regarding downlights & one thing that always seems to pop in to conversation from time to time is the misconception that a downlight or recessed lighting is manufactured & given a 'fire rating' to stop the downlight itself causing a fire. Perhaps as the downlight may get so hot from the lamp inside that it may set fire to the ceiling? Or possibly there may be an electrical problem with the downlight that may cause a fire?
In actual fact when a downlight is classed as fire rated it is not to protect the fitting itself from causing a fire but actually it is designed to stop the spread of fire from one floor in a building to another. If a fire started in a ground floor room and intensified then standard recessed downlights in the ceiling would simply drop out leaving their holes exposed allowing the flames to spread through the ceiling to the upper level. Fire rated downlights have a layer of intumescent (fire retardent) material that seals the downlight to the ceiling. They also have a metal can at the rear that replaces the purpose of the older style intumescent material covers that would contain the fire.
These types of products will also have a rating in minutes. Some are 60 minutes fire rated, others can be 90 minutes or maybe even more. This simply explains how long the unit can reasonably be expected to hold back a fire. They should certainly expect to withstand the flames in enough time for the fire brigade to extinguish the fire. Of course fire rated downlights are one way to stop a fire spreading but the best course is to avoid a fire in the first place. Take a look at the blog by ukhomeimprovement that details some of the main causes of fire in the home and what can be done to prevent it.
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Friday, 5 October 2012
What is a Fire Rated Down Light?
The first of our recessed downlighter blogs is on the fundemental issue of what exactly is a fire rated downlight. We get many questions every day asking different questions so hopefully this will clear some of the confusion.
Firstly, a Fire Rated downlight does not mean that if the fitting catches fire it will not spread. This is probably the biggest misconception. We have never heard of a downlighter that has caught fire so this is a very rare instance which is probably due to the high level of checks and certifications the downlights need to have before they are put into production.
Put simply, a Fire Rated downlight acts as a fire door between the room that is on fire and the upper floors above the room. Fire will take the easiest route possible to spread, therefore having 10 or so holes in your ceiling will help the fire spread quicker, a bit like having no fire doors in a property and letting fire spread from room to room quickly.
What the Fire Rated Downlight does is act as a fire door, stopping the fire spreading to the floor above through the holes that the downlights sit in. Various makes and models have different times that they hold back fire for and the best ones are rated for 90 minutes. This means if there was a fire in the kitchen where the down lights were situated, the room above this would have protection from the fire coming through these holes for 90 minutes. This should be ample time for anybody to exit the building and the fire brigade to extinguish the fire.
How do the Downlights become Fire Rated?
Part C compliant (stops moisture & air flow) Part E compliant (acoustic rating) Approved by Warringtonfire to BS476 (part 20/21/23) Approved by BPB to BS EN ISO 140-3&6 717-1&2. Tested in accordance with appendix F, edition 2 of robust interiors.