02 - Building Combustibility

Building combustibility is a measure of the impact that materials of construction have on the spread of fire within a building. Combustible construction can cause a fire to spread rapidly between separate areas of a building, resulting in a much larger loss.

Anything that gives off flammable vapors when heated is a combustible material. Combustible building materials are generally timber and plastics, but can also include paper, textiles, rubber, adhesives, bitumen, and chemical coatings.

  • Fire resisting construction (construction with a fire resistance of two hours or better)
  • No- or limited-combustibility (construction not expected to contribute to fire spread)
  • Combustible construction (wood and similar materials supporting fire spread)
  • Highly combustible construction (expanded polystyrene and similar materials supporting rapid fire spread).

Risk improvement ideas

  • Design new premises or building extensions to be appropriate for the planned occupancy (and possible future changes).
  • Replace panels insulated with polystyrene foam with panels insulated with noncombustible core materials such as  mineral or glass fiber.
  • Replace spray-on plastic foam insulations, bitumen-based water-proofing and other similar combustible construction materials with non-combustible materials.
  • Implement a regular inspection program to check condition of panels and combustible building components.
  • Consider application of fire resisting treatments (or coatings) to timber building components (e.g. cladding) to offer some element of fire resistance.