EPS is an acronym for 'Expanded Polystyrene' foam. It is also called 'Sandwich Panel' or 'Insulated Panel' system and consists of two metal [aluminium] faces bonded to a core of insulation which is made of expanded polystyrene.
We find EPS in risks such as Abattoirs, Butchers, Smallgoods manufacturing, Vegetable / Fruit wholesaling, Seafood Cooperatives, Cold storage, Bakeries, Dairies, Poultry operations, Pharmaceutical manufacturing and now we are starting to find it in Residential homes.
Why do businesses use it? It has excellent thermal characteristics for 'controlled' environments e.g. coolstores, it also provides good hygiene (which is why it is used in food processing).
It is also lightweight and easy to use when building. It is also water resistant and relatively inexpensive.
However, these materials have contributed to some of the biggest fires in factories or warehouses around the world and here in Australia. Why do insurers not like it? It has a relatively low flash-point of 250�C, and a fire can spread quickly (1.2 metres per minute). The other problem is that it produces large amounts of toxic smoke when on fire which endangers lives and property.
The Fire Brigade finds it a difficult fire to fight because polystyrene melts into liquid and because of the massive heat and the fact it is framed by metal or steel, the building can become structurally unstable when exposed to large amounts of heat or flames. Because of this, Fire Authorities are reluctant to enter a EPS site ablaze and indeed have lost their lives fighting such fires.
The concern for our clients is, have they disclosed any use of EPS to their insurers? Are they avoiding telling us about have EPS in their building to save money? If so, insurers can easily identify and if they have not factored in to their underwriting of the risk, they could have a claim declined.
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