In August last year, concerns about the use of wood-plastic composite decking for external, open-sided walkways were highlighted by a journalist reporting on a fire in a block of flats. They emphasised that there needs to be access to individual flats via a shared, external, open-sided walkway, constructed from materials that minimise the risk of fire, heat and smoke. In most cases, these external walkways are the only means to final exit, so care must be taken to ensure that they do not contribute to the spread of fire and can provide residents with a safe means of escape.
In the situation the journalist was reporting on, the external walkways, which were constructed from wood-plastic composite decking materials, became involved in the fire and contributed to its spread, eliminating the only means of escape for occupants and creating problems for the firefighters trying to gain access to the building.
Fire Regulations and Requirements Applicable to Means of Escape in Dwellings
When it comes to designing the common means of escape areas in dwellings, the specific requirements are mentioned in Approved Document B on Fire Safety.
Additionally, external or common walkways need to be created using materials that are classified as Class A1 or A2, s1 d0, so that they do not contribute to fire spread and provide a safe escape for residents and better firefighter access in case of fire. They should also be able to resist fire spread, have imperforate floors and provide at least the same fire resistance for load-bearing capacity as floors in the rest of the building. This will provide stability for sufficient time in case of a fire, a safe means of exit for residents and access for firefighters.
It is also recommended that measures provided in BS 9991:2015 with regard to controlling the smoke spread in such external walkways are followed.
The decking used for such common escape routes should also minimise slipperiness when wet.
Luxura®️ Non-combustible Composite Decking for Means of Escape
MyDek’s latest range of non-combustible mineral fibre composite decking, Luxura®️, provides the perfect solution for all types of means of escape. These includes stairways, walkways and other common pathways in buildings that provide routes for access to and from the building. The range has been recommended by fire brigades for its excellent fire performance and slip resistance. Here is what makes Luxura® a great choice for means of escape decking:
Luxura®️ is made using a patented composite material formed from natural minerals and recycled ore run-off that has achieved an A1 fire rating to EN 13501-1, which means that it is completely non-combustible and compliant with the latest regulations.
It is a naturally slip-resistant material that has a textured surface impregnated with a specialist sealant. This makes it highly slip resistant with a PTV rating of 60 when dry and 43 when wet, which is well above the threshold for low-risk slip potential of 36 stipulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Durability and Low Maintenance
The mineral composite used also ensures that there is no expansion or contraction of the decking due to weather changes. It is also stain, scratch and wear resistant and it prevents algae growth, making it extremely low maintenance and durable.
Easy to Use
Luxura® uses a non-combustible hidden clip system to fix it into the subframe, clamping the boards via a neat groove in their sides. This makes it extremely simple and fast to install. The boards can also be drilled and screwed for customisation if required, and they can be cut with circular saw, chop saw or jigsaw (see installation instructions for blade specifications).
Get in touch with our team for more information and to request samples. Got a live project or simply keen to find out more? Why not book a free discovery session with one of our technical team and see how Luxura® could work for you.