Here’s What You Need to Know About Fire Rated Plywood Materials

Posted by Nathan Sangster on May 21, 2019 10:24:43 AM

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In the wake of the Lacrosse and Neo200 fires in Melbourne and the fatal Grenfell Tower fire in London, there has been plenty of talk surrounding the safety of materials used in the construction industry.

Recently, the owners of apartments in the Lacrosse tower in Docklands were awarded over $5 million dollars in damages, to be paid by those who were found to have been at fault for their part in allowing non-compliant combustible external cladding materials to be used.

This finding highlights the responsibility that all of us in the construction industry have in understanding the requirements surrounding fire ratings and selecting appropriate materials for every project.

While the above example relates to combustible exterior cladding, the requirements regarding fire ratings include interior materials too. So, to help you understand what compliant plywood products are available for walls and ceilings, we’ve put together this brief overview:

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Fire Rating Group Numbers Explained

When it comes to the fire hazard properties of linings, materials and assemblies, the National Construction Code (NCC) 2015 Building Code of Australia (BCA) Specification C1.10 Fire Hazard Properties sets out the Deemed to Satisfy requirements. The specifications relate to Building Classes 2-9, which covers multi-unit residential dwellings, schools, healthcare facilities, shopping centres, hotels, offices, factories, warehouses and more.

When selecting materials for the walls and ceilings of your next project, it’s essential that they meet the group number (1, 2 or 3) specified in the requirements. Group numbers are determined by physical or prediction fire testing of materials that is completed in accordance with the relevant Australian standard, with 1 being the highest classification, and 4 the poorest performing. The group number required for materials used in the walls and ceilings of Class 2-9 buildings can be found in the Specification C1.10 Fire Hazard Properties (table 3).

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Fire Rated Plywood Solutions

If you’re looking for a plywood solution that complies with the above specifications, Firecoat is your solution.

  • Firecoat: Timber products from our Lucca, Maxi Edge and Veneer range are coated with an intumescent clear coating, which foams up and forms a thick protective layer when exposed to high temperatures from flames or heat radiation from fire. Our Firecoat products are used in construction projects to prevent the spread of fire on walls and ceilings and are suitable for use in buildings with a Group 1 Fire Rating requirement.

LUCCA Maxi Edge Veneers
LUCCA  MAXI EDGE TIMBER VENEERS

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What is a BAL rating?

Another consideration when choosing materials is the property’s Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rating. If the new building is located in a designated Bushfire Prone Area, a BAL rating is given that reflects the potential risk of the building’s exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flames.

The Australian Standard for construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas (AS 3959-2009) specifies six Bushfire Attack Levels: BAL-LOW, BAL-12.5, BAL-19, BAL-29, BAL-40, and BAL-FZ (Flame Zone). Each BAL rating has a range of requirements regarding the types of materials that can be used in the construction of the building, and these conditions must be satisfied for the building to be deemed compliant.

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How to comply with your BAL rating

If you need plywood products that are fire rated to meet the specifications of your property’s Bushfire Attack Level, we have a range of suitable options. These include our Lucca and Maxi Edge products, which can be coated with specialty flame retardant protection. This makes them appropriate for use for construction of properties with a rating up to and including BAL-29.

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Arm Yourself with the Right Knowledge and Products

It’s no secret that there are plenty of challenges ahead for the design and construction industry to ensure fire rating compliance. However, by arming yourself with the right knowledge and choosing the best product solutions, you can adapt and evolve successfully to meet the safety and design needs of every project moving forward.

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Want to Know More? Our Team Can Help!

If you have a question about fire rated plywood solutions for your next project, we’d love to hear from you.

Contact our team on 1300 761 741 or email sales@maxiply.com.au for samples.