CODE OF PRACTICE - DEVELOPMENT

IMPLEMENTATION

Whilst the Code of Practice ("the CODE") is voluntary in nature, the certification process that confirms that the installation and Panel comply with the CODE is not voluntary, and is administered by IPCA Ltd. The CODE requires specific design specifications be presented in the application such as; fixings of external walls to base; wall to wall corner details; and ceiling with hanging fastener details. The CODE also requires specific Panel installation details such as; perimeter suspension to all ceilings - ceilings not to be supported by panel walls; no nylon fixings or suspensions to be used; steel flashings and rivets only to be used.  The CODE requires that Panel be made with fire grade (i.e. fire retardant).  The CODE also requires emergency and safety measures for refrigerated and cooling chambers, and that post construction recommendations be provided to end users.

SCOPE

 
The intention of the CODE is to deliver a better performing Panel System in a fire.
The CODE DOES NOT mitigate any requirements of the relevant building legislation.
The CODE is not intended to be used in conjunction with a fire engineered alternative solution under the performance provisions of the Building Code of Australia.
Design applications using the CODE as part of a building approval submission need to consult with the Fire Brigade having jurisdiction.

OBJECTIVES 

Compliance with the CODE will achieve a structure which is more stable under fire conditions and fire fighter confidence in Insulated Sandwich Panel, through:
(a) Establishing minimum principles and standards for:
  (i) The design specification and approval of facilities incorporating such systems.
  (ii) The manufacture and installation of Panel used in such systems.
(b) Promoting strategies to address the risk of fire, as well as the maintenance requirements and emergency planning procedures in facilities incorporating such systems.
(c) Providing recognizable “Code Branding Mark” that distinguishes Panel Systems which have been constructed in compliance with this CODE.

CODE SUMMARY

Whilst the CODE is voluntary in nature, certification that a project has been installed to CODE requirements is not. For a project to be certified as CODE compliant:
Manufacturers and installers of Panel must be signatories to the CODE.
An application for certification that the project is CODE compliant needs to be made to the Insulated Panel Council Australasia Ltd (IPCA Ltd.) Code Facilitator, including an application fee of $550. This application should include:
 
Design and detailing specifications;
 
Panel manufacture type;
 
Panel installation details/drawings;
 
Emergency and Safety measures for refrigerated and cooling chambers;
 
Post construction recommendations; and
 
Specification of where Panel labels will go.

WHAT THE CODE WILL DO?

Delay delamination and exposing the core.
Delay collapse and provide early warning to the Fire Brigade.
Fire Brigade education.
Labelling.
Certification to ensure compliance.
Exceed the requirements of the BCA i.e. Group 2 areas will be Group 1 + additional CODE measures.
Ensure Fire Retardant or (EPS FR) is used, in accordance with AS1366.3 1992.
Meet ISO 9705 with the additions noted in this CODE.
Include perimeter suspension.
Ensure implementation of a Certification Scheme.
Provide an audit system.
Provide identification process for fire fighters.
Labels on the doors.
Ensure strategic fire plan is located at entrance to the site, the fire control room.
Ensure Fire Brigade is sent a copy of the Certificate of Compliance and annual lists of certified buildings.
Assist fire fighters to carry out appropriate Pre-Incident Planning.
Ensure appropriate type of Panel is used in areas of food processing at elevated temperatures and cooking equipment or similar heat generation equipment/processes. Right Panel, Right Application.
Standardise Panel joint design and fixing to assist in addressing delamination.
Provide post construction occupancy recommendations for better "housekeeping" and emergency procedures that include:
 
Implementing a regular inspection and maintenance regime;
 
Risk management planning for the site;
 
Emergency procedures planning;
 
Training to ensure experience, knowledge and standards remain relevant and applied; and
 
Removal of compliance if requirements NOT carried out.

WHAT IMPACT WILL THE CODE OF PRACTICE HAVE?

The CODE for the use of core Insulated Sandwich Panels in BCA Class 7 and 8 Buildings that incorporates construction specifications that reflect the findings of the previously discussed research as well as additional requirements relating to labelling and fire safety management practices. The CODE includes detailed construction drawings that specify the use of steel angles and screws for internal and external corner junctions as well as an external ceiling suspension system using threaded steel rods inserted through the Panel. Importantly, no nylon fixings or suspensions are used and there are no aluminum rivets and no aluminum extrusions used at the Panel junctions.

The key to improving the fire performance of the Insulated Sandwich Panel assembly as a whole is to:
1. Keep the core material separated from contact with flame and air by keeping the metal facings in place using robust fixings that are able to withstand elevated temperatures (eg. steel angles and rivets); and
2. Provide external structural support for the ceiling Panels. Collapsing ceiling Panels are a hazard to fire fighters and are likely to expose the combustible core material to the fire, greatly accelerating the development of the fire. A good support system should be designed to avoid sudden or unexpected failure of the ceiling system and exhibit a ductile and gradual failure mechanism, allowing fire fighters sufficient time to react and retreat if necessary.

Both of these requirements have been included in the CODE. The CODE needs to be used in conjunction with good risk management practices, the judicious use of fire separating walls, ensuring good housekeeping, and general risk management such as having a "Hot Work" Permit system in place, and ensuring that the correct Panel is chosen according to how the building or room will be used.


BARRIERS TO CODE IMPLEMENTATION

The CODE has good industry support with over 80% of industry signed up to the CODE. There are barriers to the uptake of the CODE as it is voluntary in nature. There are costs involved with ensuringthe suppliers or installers of ISP are accredited as Code Compliant and cost of construction may be marginally higher, due to the use of steel ceiling supports, steel flashings and rivets etc. Ensuring the benefits of the CODE are well understood, working with all stakeholders such as manufacturers; builders; building owners and occupiers; fire and emergency services, insurers; ABCB, and Standards Australia will help overcome these barriers.  When insurers, building developers, building owners and fire services insist on building that demonstrates Code Compliance, uptake will be rapid.

LONG TERM PLAN

Implementation of the CODE began on 1 December 2010. IPCA Ltd. will continue to support the Certification Scheme, conduct information sessions where required and provide advice to new and current signatories on how to be Code Compliant.

Presently the CODE is based specifically on the fire performance of cored ISP for Class 7 and 8 Buildings. Longer term goals are to expand the CODE for other BCA Classifications of buildings and core types; and to review issues other than performance in fires situations such as vapour barrier sealing, hygiene and thermal performance. 

IPCA Ltd. will continue with an experimental program, in conjunction with Australasian Fire Authorities and Emergency Services Council (AFAC) (see below), which looks at ways to improve the performance of Insulated Sandwich Panel in a variety of configurations and conditions.  In fact a research program in conjunction with AFAC, UNSW, ARUP, City University of Hong Kong and University of Science and Technology of China to improve the performance of fire retardant Panel.