Have you got this hidden fire risk in your ceiling?
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Have you got this hidden fire risk in your ceiling?

A case study in trusting your gut!

One canny building contractor working for a Hampshire housing association spotted some polystyrene ceiling tiles hidden in a ceiling void. Noting that they were in a bad condition, and thinking that the property manager may not know, he it flagged it up as a possible fire risk. The manager took the responsible path and called us in to assess them. (Thumbs up to both the contractor and the manager!)

Jerry, our assessor did his job and the contractor was proved right: the tiles were a risk in more ways than one.

Risk one: electrical cables

The electrical wiring had not been properly secured and was resting on the tiles. Past fires have proved that residue from polystyrene tiles can transfer to the plastic coating on electrical cables, degrading it so that the wiring inside becomes exposed. Exposed wiring presents a significant risk of fire, so the cables need to be inspected and secured.

Risk two: Insufficient thermal barrier

The tiles dated from around 1978 when the property was built, and at the time were intended as a barrier to protect an escape corridor in the event of a fire. Unsurprisingly, the old tiles were in poor condition and anyway don’t comply with modern British Standards, so they need to be replaced to provide a new thermal barrier.

Risk three: possible asbestos!

Jerry had a niggling feeling about the tiles and decided to check them out online when he got back to his computer. He found that the pattern on the care home’s tiles was worryingly like some 1970’s asbestos tiles, so he has recommended that the care home employ an asbestos specialist to check them before they are disturbed.

If you’ve a niggle about fire safety, don’t ignore it. Please do give us a call – we are here to help you. Contact Jason Sugden on 01329 511995, or drop him a line at jason@benfieldfire.co.uk