October 15, 2012

Cheap yet dangerous

Ioane Burese
Saturday, October 13, 2012

THE National Fire Authority (NFA) says it's "very concerned" that sub-standard buildings and electrical and firefighting equipment are being sold.

The authority raised its concern after it was determined sub-standard foil which was declared dangerous by the Trade and Commerce Ministry in October 2008 under Section 32 of the Trade Standards and Quality Control Decree 1992.

The substandard foils are cheaper but do not comply with the Building Code of Fiji's requirement of "flammability index of less than 5".

These substandard foils contribute to the rapid spread of fires in roofs and ceiling as observed by fire officers.

Authority CEO John O'Connor said substandard foils were specified as dangerous goods.

"Building foils consist of two layers of aluminium foil bonded to a high density kraft paper using special adhesives," he said.

"The type of adhesive determines the flammability of the laminate.

"The majority of building foils imported into Fiji are not made using fire retardant adhesives.

"The most common adhesive used is bitumen, a derivative of petroleum, and therefore highly flammable. Any ignition source would result in the rapid spread of fire."

Mr O'Connor advises those planning to replace existing ceiling foils and/or building new buildings to buy foils that comply with Fiji's Building Code even though they are more expensive than non-compliant substandard foils.

He said consumers could request hardware suppliers to provide labelling or a certificate (MSDS) to confirm the properties and the quality compliance of the foil.

Mr O'Connor said the authority was working with FEA and the Trade Ministry to ensure only quality electrical products which met the required standards were imported.

"Three commercial fires this year resulted from the tube light melting and causing the fire to spread.

"We also have concerns on the standard of firefighting equipment being imported into the country.

"NFA is working with fire agents to ensure only quality firefighting equipment which meet the required standards are imported and sold to consumers," said Mr O'Connor.

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