European fire tests for roofing under review

In the frame of the European Construction Products Directive (CPD) a harmonized European system for fire testing and classification of construction products has been developed in order to remove barriers to trade in the single European market and to substitute the plethora of existing national tests and classifications. This has been achieved for most of the construction products such as wall and ceiling linings, floor coverings, pipes and cables: here a series of uniform fire tests has been developed and the national fire tests were withdrawn with the introduction of the respective European product standards.

For the external fire performance of roofs, however, a harmonized classification system and related test methods have not been introduced so far. The harmonization and standardization work started in 1994 within the European Standardization Technical Committee on Fire Safety CEN/TC 127, Working Group WG5 External Fire Performance of Roofs. First, as an interim solution, the roof fire tests of Germany and France were put forward. However, other Member States of the European Community complained that they were not suitable for their fire regulations and classifications, so that those of the Nordic countries and the United Kingdom were subsequently added. Eventually, in 2005, the four fire tests methods were published in the pre-standard ENV 1187:2002/A1:2005 and the fire performance classification procedures for roofs/roof coverings based on these tests as standard EN 13501-5.

All four tests assess the fire spread across the external surface of and within the roof; however the fire sources vary from burning wood shavings, woodcribs, alcohol soaked fiberboard brands, and gas flames to the additional use of radiant panels, and wind, as can be seen from the following test parameters:


Parameter Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4   
Original standard DIN NORD AFNOR BS
Specimen size (m) 0.8 x 1.8 0.4 x 1.0 1.2 x 3.0 0.84 x 0.84
Pitch of test specimen  15° or 45° 30° 5° or 30° 45° or horizontal
Brand type wood wool in basket woodcrib fibreboard brands gas flame
Windspeeds not specified 2 m/s 2 and 4 m/s 6.7 m/s
Radiation levels not applied radiation not applied radiation 12.5 kW/m² 12.5 kW/m²

ENV 1187 was intended to be an interim solution but it has been in use for many years. The performance data from any of the test methods is equally acceptable for CE marking.  However, this interim solution is no more acceptable to the Commission and work has begun within CEN/TC 127 WG5 to develop a Single Burning Roof Test (SBR). Details of how this new test will look like and the time frame for its introduction are not known so far.