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Fire Safety & Regulation 118.02: Everything you need to know

Fire Safety & Regulation
118.02: Everything you
need to know

Gaining compliance with Regulation 118 fire safety standards is essential for both vehicle and component manufacturers.



Fire safety is by far one of the most important technical requirements for materials used within a vehicle. Ensuring the safety of the passengers in the unlikely event of a fire is essential and therefore, all materials in high risk areas such as interior cabin and engine bays must comply with international flammability standards.

To ensure materials can provide a safe environment, the European directive ‘ECE Regulation No. 118’ is used to govern the fire safety of materials in coaches and intercity all-seater buses.

Increasingly and while currently not required under Reg. 118, city procurement bodies are also demanding that their new urban buses meet this technical standard as part of public procurement contracts.

The prevention and control of fires in commercial vehicles have always been a key aspect of passenger safety; as passenger numbers grow across the EU, so too does the importance of flammability behaviour.

What is R118?

ECE Regulation 118 covers how materials burn (their burning rate and melting behavior) and their ability to prevent the absorption of fuel and lubricants. It is relevant to materials located in the occupant compartments and heated compartments (such as engine bays) of commercial vehicles, including buses and coaches.

Acoustic and sound-proofing materials are also subject to Reg. 118 because of their location within passenger cabins and engine bays.

Components of a vehicle are given approval by a national vehicle type-approval authority within a designated UNECE member state, such as the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), and the Netherlands Vehicle Authority RDW). This is to prove that they can conform to a series of tests covering horizontal or vertical burning rates, melting behavior and the ability to withstand diesel fuel.

In the foreseeable future, the introduction of more electric and autonomous vehicles is going to add further safety requirements, for instance in respect to the prevention of short circuits and leakage currents.

Who does it relate to?

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Reg. 118 relates to Class II and Class III vehicles within the M3 category.

Vehicle types included within the M3 Class II & III category have:

A recent analysis in Germany found that there are around 350 bus fires every year and of these about 75% start in the engine compartment.

And while buses are one of the safest modes of transport, if accidents, fires or onboard failures do occur the impact can be severe, casualties high and reputations of manufacturers and/or operators severely damaged. Even in cases where casualties are avoided, irreparable vehicle damage will put a vehicle out of service and affect revenue generation.

Some of the main causes of bus fires include; the age of the bus, maintenance issues, equipment failures, design flaws, and accidents or collisions.

What materials is it relevant to?

Reg. 118 is relevant to the materials or components used in areas of the vehicle with high flammability risk (engine bay and heater compartments), or high fire impact areas (interior cabin space).

The materials used in the interior compartments (the internal cabin space and passenger areas) and engine bays are installed not only to enhance the acoustic performance of the vehicle, but they should also serve an additional purpose and minimize the risk of flame development and propagation.

Any adhesive agents that are used to attach the material to the supporting structures within the vehicle should also (as far as possible) not intensify the burning behaviour of the material.

What tests do the materials need to pass to become compliant?

For materials to be Reg. 118 compliant and before they can be placed on a bus or coach, there are tests they must pass

Materials & Composite Materials in a Horizontal Position:
Used to determine the horizontal burning rate, this test is passed if the burning rate is not more than 100 mm/minute or if the flame extinguishes before reaching the first measuring point.

Materials & Composite Materials installed more than 500 mm above the seat cushion, in the roof of the vehicle and/or insulation materials installed in the engine compartment:
Materials must pass a burning droplet test which determines the melting behaviour of the materials. The test is passed if the material does not form burning drops that ignite a bed of cotton wool underneath the sample

Materials & Composites Materials Installed in a Vertical Position:
These materials must undergo a test to determine the vertical burning rate of materials. This test is passed if the vertical burning rate is not more than 100 mm/minute or if the flame extinguishes before it reaches the first thread mark

All Insulation Materials Installed in the Engine Compartment:
These materials must be tested to determine the materials ability to withstand ingress and the absorption of diesel fuel through their exposed facing.

No sound-proofing, acoustic or other materials that may be flammable or are liable to become impregnated with fuel or lubricant should be used in the engine compartment unless that material is covered by a Regulation 118 approved impermeable sheet.

Ventac is a trusted supplier of Reg. 118 approved materials to Bus & Coach OEMs across Europe. To find out more or to discuss a solution with a member of our team contact us.

When was the regulation introduced and
can I expect any future changes?

Reg. 118.01 came into effect on the 9th of December 2010, to determine the capability of materials to repel fuel or lubricant. It then becomes mandatory on the 9th December 2012 for new bus types and components and on the 9th December 2015 for first bus registrations.

With Reg. 118.02, a series of amendments came into force on the 26th July 2012. The requirements for materials installed in a vertical position regarding the vertical burning rate were extended. These requirements became mandatory on the 26 July 2016 for new component types, 26th July 2017 for new vehicle types and on the 26th July 2020, it will become mandatory for first registrations

Where do I source Reg. 118
compliant materials?

While Reg. 118 makes travel for passengers safer, it does come
with its own technical challenges and opportunities.

Under the ECE Regulation 118.02, more appropriate solutions for flammability performance must be implemented by both vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers.

Component suppliers are now responsible for achieving compliance with the standard and demonstrating a production process that maintains a conformity of producing materials to the requirements of the standard on an ongoing basis.

Some materials that were traditionally acceptable for use in engine bays, such as acoustically absorbent materials covered with perforated facings, micro-perforated sheets, thin flame laminated membranes, chemically treated felt sheets and materials that react with fuels and lubricants (e.g. bitumen damping layers and certain foams) will now struggle to meet the requirements.

Ventac were the first acoustic component manufacture in the UK & Ireland to supply Reg. 118 approved solutions to the Bus & Coach industry. We work with vehicle manufacturers to support their compliance with the updated standards, while also offering market-leading acoustic and materials expertise.

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