Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Metflam Phoenix with 60/60 Fire Resistance

MetFlam, a company known for some very clever high performance fire resistant glass doors, has been acquired by DR Services, resulting in a much missed product line being restored to the market.
“It's a totally logical extension,” said DR Services Director Julie Jarvis. “We currently create frameless glass offices, partitions and shop fronts. Now we will be able to continue that theme in fire glass.”

MetFlam ceased production in 2011 as a result of key personnel leaving the company, but negotiations in recent months resulted in an amicable solution that has enabled DR Services, an innovative glazing design company based in Harlow, to re-float the company as an independent business.

 MetFlam is known for creating what is thought to be the world's only 60/60 fire rated door with a 20mm jamb at anything up to 2.5 metres in height. In this context 60/60 means 60 minutes of insulation from a fire as well as 60 minutes integrity (during which time the door will stay in place).

MetFlam was a company well known to the directors of DR Services, as the two companies used to be based in the same building. But the connections went deeper than that. Julie and David's son William Jarvis was the Technical Director whose name was on MetFlam's patent. William is now employed by DR Services.

The main assets of the 60/60 fire rated door company, apart from the patent, were the BS476: Part 22 or BS EN 1634-1 test results achieved at the Warrington and Cambridge laboratories.

 The technical difference between the first and second 60s (integrity and insulation) is easy to explain but quite difficult to achieve. Integrity refers to a screen that will stand there and stop any fire going across, but it doesn't necessarily hold back high temperatures.

So the surface of the side where there is no fire may be almost as hot as the side facing the blaze.

Insulation, according to current regulations, means doors have a temperature of no more than 130°C above ambient during the rated fire proof time.

As a result people can get very close but feel only a minimal effect from the fire. The system could be used in areas where there are escape routes because it holds back the temperature sufficiently to enable people to egress safely.

“Our research indicates that there are very few high quality glass fire doors out there,” said Julie Jarvis. “Yet this is a massive market.

“What we are talking about is an absolutely minimally framed glass fire door that provides 60 minutes integrity and 60 minute insulation. Yet the mullion, the vertical edge, of these glass doors is 20mm and we believe that the closest competitor is 50mm.

“As a result ours are exceedingly elegant and blend in beautifully with frameless glass buildings, making them ideal for hotels, high rise office buildings and all the communal spaces that require fire performance but  also need light.”

The 60/60 fire door was never manufactured on a production line.
“They are made to a recipe,” Julie Jarvis explained. “They all have the same elements in them, but the length and width of the elements are variable so they can be made to fit the opening.”

All specifications are individual and the time frames on projects of this kind tend to be fairly lengthy. So for all practical purposes the 60/60 door is now up and running as a going concern, despite the 12 months absence from the marketplace.

“For instance, if somebody needs two fire doors we could create them to the certificate level now,” said Julie Jarvis. “They could place the order tomorrow and have them in about three weeks.

“If there was a high rise office building that required 300 doors that would take a lot longer just to get the special fire glass manufactured.

“So that would require more time but even if we were to get an order for that now it's unlikely it would need to be installed very quickly, so we could probably even manage that.”
Does it represent a change of direction for DR Services? 

 “Absolutely not,” Julie Jarvis replied. “It's totally complementary to the DR Services range, currently including frameless glass.”

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