Smartlouvre Technology

The building fires nobody expects

Posted on 4th April 2023

The building fires nobody expects

Did you know there are around 37,000 residential fires each year in the UK? Obviously most of these are from electric misuse; leaving on cooking appliances, for example. But what if we told you that a significant percentage are started simply from sun radiation burning through unprotected windows?

The London Fire Brigade reported 125 fires over 5 years (just in London Boroughs) caused by the sun’s rays refracting onto objects. In high rise residential buildings this could prove catastrophic, especially with the now widely reported problems of flammable cladding and window attachments.

These fires are caused when the sun’s rays penetrate the building through unprotected windows. If they hit metal objects or glass such as mirrors inside the property, this can focus and concentrate the rays, just like a magnifying glass, onto flammable objects such as internal blinds, carpets and curtains, which quickly ignite. These types of fires can happen at any time of the year, but especially in winter months when the sun is at its lowest as it enables the UV rays to reach even further into the building.

A prime example of the devastation these types of fires can cause is the 2019 fire that happened in Dame Joan Collins’ flat when the sun beam reflected off a mirror and ignited the blinds. It took over an hour and ten firefighters to extinguish the flames. The fire ruined the entire flat and could have easily spread to the other building blocks floors.

All the articles warning about sun fires emphasise the importance of working fire alarms and relying on human safeguards such as removing any hazardous objects near windows. The former is essential, but the latter totally unrealistic. There is rarely any mention of the most obvious life-safety solution of preventing the problem by stopping the sun from hitting the glass in the first place; MicroLouvre Fire-Safe screens™ not only solve this problem, they do it without blocking any views out!

Our wholly sustainable solar shading and privacy screens can create up to a 100% heat block from the sun, eliminating the risk of sun fires entirely. The non-combustible MicroLouvre stops the sun rays before they even reach the windows. In addition, the black metal fabric absorbs the sun’s heat and harnesses natural airflow to dissipate it upwards, away from the window and back up into the atmosphere. This unique method of solar shading provides optimal efficiency, and compared to other types of solar shading, it allows uninterrupted vision out, as well as natural daylight and ventilation in.

MicroLouvre Fire-Safe screens™ have excellent fire protection properties. It is the only external solar shading whole window screen that is A1/A2 fire-rated, now a UK legal requirement on all residential buildings of just five or six floors and higher. The tiny gap of just 1.2mm between the bronze louvres means MicroLouvre protects from flying burning embers and debris; perfect for buildings in close proximity, and even effective for bushfires and wildfires. MicroLouvre has been tested and proven to reach the highest fire standards in AS3959 up to BAL-FZ and BAL-40. Our MicroLouvre Fire-Safe screens™ offer protection and prevention from all types of fire, making them what we believe to be the most versatile and practical solar shading screens out there.

To find out more about how our MicroLouvre material creates exceptional fire safety, take a look at our fire safety brochures, or give us a call on +44 239 245 6333 to discuss more and request a sample.

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