Product Feature

UK Building Regulations highlight toxic gas and smoke from layers of paint built up over multiple redecorations as a major cause of permanent ill health or death in a building fire.

Their concern rose with discovery the flame retardant paints most widely used paint along escape routes have been ones which to this day counter-productively use emission of heavy toxic gas to smother flames which rapidly spread along walls if layers of paint delaminate in a fire.

It rose yet more with revelations that until 2017, the gas used was ultra toxic , would permanently and severely burn the eyes and lungs of any resident or occupant who inhales and is not killed by it while trying to escape.

All the gases involved are heavy, falling to the floor and down stairways, increasing the likelihood people escaping the fire would inhale them.

No flame retardant paints sold under the old Class 0 fire standard have been able to show they control toxic gas and smoke emitted by multiple layers of mixed types of recent typical standard decorative wall paints or older ones that used Antimony, the lead industry’s heavy metal at the lethal lead and arsenic end of the heavy metal spectrum, let alone paints designed to emit “heavy non-combustible gas”.

Fortunately a British specialist fire paint brand that supports independent English (and now Scottish) paint manufacturers chose to comply with the Office Deputy Prime Minister’s calls in 2000 and 2006 to switch to surface Reaction-to-Fire paints that control toxic gas and smoke to the safest near-zero level s1 instead of unlimited Class 0 and high gas & smoke s3.

The Building Regulations authors continue to promote the only British surface Reaction-to-Fire which replicates the inevitable air flows in Real-World fires BSEN Class B

The same specialist companies chose to accept the halving of profit margins that necessitated by protecting to BSEN 13501 Class B s1d0 in place of Class 0, whose fatally flawed tests counter-intuitively avoid air flows and standard omits the previous British Standard tests for toxic smoke and gas.

Thanks a bunch Lead Industries Group ! Your toxic legacy lingers on !    
Class B s1d0 is only future-proof fire standard.

Only Class B s1d0 pressures paint makers to accept responsibility for fire protection by Certifying fire individual projects after robust Due Diligence checks.
The Class 0 paints regime unfairly leaves all responsibility with building maintenance managers for ensuring the fire protection paint used is fit for purpose.
This situation is made even more unfair by Govt approved protocols needed to test old surfaces’ fire risk  in order to justify continued use of unreliable Class 0 flame retardant paints instead of safe Class B s1d0.

Representatives for Class 0 flame retardant paint brands cannot be held responsible for not having been informed that those protocols needed if only minimal protection Class 0 flame retardant finishes are to be used involve (incredibly) a critical test of surface-heating to see if the paint delaminates atb200C, risking flamespread along escape routes. The protocols’ other test - laboratory inspection of paint flakes – can identify if a surface needs the textured basecoats as well as coats of the finish to even achieve Class 0.

They cannot differentiate between a surface that is Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3.

All this complication and risk ends with the use of high-performance Smoke & Flame Retardant Paint to BSEN Class B s1d0.

While Thermoguard is the only brand with the required testing spanning the range of relevant surfaces replicating wall and ceiling Real-World paint histories, we look forward to decorative paint groups coming to accept the modest profit margins involved with Class B s1d0 and end of Class 0’s profit margin bonanza
In the meantime, Thermoguard has invested in the raw materials to protect 2 million sqm while the others catch up.
The final recent revelation has been that Antimony - a pigment within the lead and arsenic group of toxic heavy metals - has been a near ever-present, alternating between the leading decorative paint brands’ Flame Retardant paints from 1970 to the present day.

At the time lead was banned in paint, the Building Regulators and HSE had been diverted from considering the need to ban Antimony or others on the lead and arsenic end the heavy metals spectrum by the Govt’s favoured paint makers’ diversionary virtue signalling.

The offending flame retardant paint’s literature stressed “no added lead” and warned of the need for special asbestos-removal type operations (which include emptying of buildings) when stripping paint contaminated with lead from walls.  
Inclusion of Antimony and similar heavy metals makes stripping paint from escape route walls dangerous, impractical, unaffordable and devastating for the lives of social housing and care home residents.

All the above makes application of flame retardant paints that control both surface fire intensity and toxic smoke & gas release dangers latent within multiple layers of gas-release and common wall paints to the totally safe BSEN Class B s1d0 an urgent and pressing imperative.

Application of the most effective fire safety paint becomes actively counter-productive after storage in conditions so severe that painters on site encounter paint in cans which manifests extreme, symptoms of frost damage, creating the hitherto unimagined effects witnesses and photographed on site.

It is equally counter-productive to - as in this case - apply effective fire safety paint in conditions so far below dew point that the intumescent paint in question, whose ratio of solids to water ratio is twice that of the paints these painters normally apply and habitually leaves a depth equivalent when dry to three coats of the decorative or flame retardant paint normally apply was widely measured on this site at 60% below the depth of normal paint and 80% below the typical depth of our intumescent paint.

Such actions double the cost for Govt and Association clients and disruption time to building occupants when the next painters find the previous paint lifts off the wall as they roll on fresh paint.

Far more seriously, however, such actions maximise the likelihood of any fire paint delaminating in a fire before it has a chance to perform it’s function, itself spreads flame as it delaminates and maximises the risk of toxic gas and smoke release from the paints below into the air within the escape routes.

I recognise that both you and their solicitor doubt the law as it stands would give the judge the opportunity to try even a case with this one’s wealth of evidence, gravity and implications on it’s merits.

I see it as my duty to give the Courts the opportunity to rule whether public safety considerations can overcome the restrictions the law as currently written impose on them, even in a case such as this.

Where small company’s decision maker was critically ill in hospital with Sepsis, unaware so unable to prevent a recently appointed part-time, self-employed agent taking wilfully misleading claims at face value, succumb to pressure from an aggressive, intimidatory and opportunistic contractor for a response that suited them knowing our company was temporarily rudderless and in panic that stress for the controller would reduce his likelihood of survival.

In the absence of my guidance, he followed his erstwhile decorative paint brand employer’s practice of paying a delinquent National contractor to the Govt to hide the evidence of their failings until after they that contractor has been paid, at the expense of the client later and public safety.   

Given the contractor’s expertise at misrepresentation,  both you and their solicitor can be forgiven failing to identify that her three “gotcha” are nothing of the sort.

Both times David was allowed access to the application areas 3 weeks prior to application of our paint were on 6th & 12th  Jan, when he performed them and the client a service supervising trials in acceptable conditions with - and subsequent tests of - bonding primers made by other companies.

David’s comment over investigating a claimed problem with our paint related to a complaint made by this contractor elsewhere on the same site.

If it proves the case that their manipulations and pressure has tied the Court’s hands, it will be our duty to promote a change in the law to give judges the discretion they deserve.

Paul Letch
Founder, Thermoguard group.

Infection Control