What is the FM Approval 5-step process and how does it bring peace of mind on quality for products specified for a roofing project?


What is the FM Approval 5-step process and how does it bring peace of mind on quality for products specified for a roofing project?

The FM Approval 5-step process requires:

  1. The manufacturer to submit a formal product approval request to FM
  2. FM to send a proposal letter to the manufacturer, and manufacturer authorises proposal in writing
  3. FM to carry out product evaluation and testing, and first quality audit
  4. The issue of FM Approval report and listing of the product on FM systems
  5. Ongoing surveillance audits of manufacturer to maintain FM Approved status

This summary of the five steps before an individual product or system from a manufacturer can become ‘FM Approved’ shows that both the manufacturer and the product must go through a thorough checking process. This involves evaluation of the performance claims made about the product in datasheets and literature; the quality procedures in place during the manufacturing process and appropriate testing of the product itself. Once FM Approval for the product has been granted there are also ongoing audits of the manufacturing facilities.

We will look at the 5 steps that manufacturers must follow in more detail and will show that, when you use an ‘FM Approved’ product on your project, you can rest assured that it has been subjected to a rigorous regime of testing and ongoing monitoring, to ensure its performance matches your expectations.

What are the 5 steps to gaining FM Approval for a product?

FM Approvals is an American third-party international testing and verification service provider. Manufacturers who wish to gain FM Approval for their product take the first of the five steps by submitting a formal request to FM. This request must include information about the product, including place of manufacture, product codes, specifications, associated product literature such as sales brochures and information about the scope of the work to be covered by the approval.

Once FM Approvals has the request, the next step is to send a proposal letter to the customer. This letter confirms the scope of the work that will be undertaken by the approval process, the schedule of work needed, sample requirements, testing that will be carried out plus the estimated cost of the whole process.

The third step is for FM Approvals to evaluate the product specifications or drawings with the information provided by the manufacturer. If all the relevant information has been received, then testing is scheduled and carried out by FM Approvals. As well as product testing, FM Approvals visits the manufacturer’s production facility to review quality control procedures.

At the penultimate step, the completed test results are evaluated, and an approval report is prepared and reviewed for technical accuracy and quality. Product samples from the manufacturer are either archived, disposed of, or returned to the customer. Then, if all tests and evaluations have met FM Approvals requirements, the customer is sent the FM Approval report and approval is effective from the date on that report. Individual FM Approved products are then listed in the FM Approval Guide and the manufacturer can label the product as ‘FM Approved’.

The fifth and final step is in place to provide ongoing reassurance about the quality and repeatability of the approved product. The manufacturers of FM Approved products need to show that they can continue to consistently make the product to the same standards as the initial evaluation. For that reason they are subject to ongoing surveillance audits of the manufacturing facilities and failure to meet the requirements will result in the removal of the products ‘FM Approved’ status.

Can whole flat roof assemblies also get FM Approval?

As well as individual products, FM Approval can also be achieved for a group of different products that combine to form a whole roof assembly. In this case, the whole assembly, and not the individual components, are subjected to a variety of tests by FM Approvals.

These tests carried out under FM Standard ‘4470’ and are designed to discover and quantify how resilient the assembly is to: fire from inside and outside the roof; wind uplift; water ingress; foot trafficking; hail damage; metal corrosion and puncturing of the membrane.

Products tested as part of an FM Approved assembly cannot then claim to be individually ‘FM Approved’. They must go through the five-step process for individual products described earlier. It may be true that some FM Approved products are also used within FM Approved assemblies, but this cannot be assumed to be the case and individual products should be checked for their approval status.

Where can you find a list of FM Approved products and FM assemblies?

The information about FM Approved products and assemblies can be easily found online. The online ‘Approval Guide’ lists information on individual FM Approved products and ‘RoofNav’ for whole roof assemblies.

Given the wide ranging and rigorous testing that both products and assemblies undergo before they can gain the ‘FM Approved’ status, specifying FM Approved products and assemblies brings with it the peace of mind that you are using robust, resilient and proven roofing solutions on your project.

DensDeck® Roof Cover Boards and Roof Boards are individually FM Approved to give you the reassurance of our ongoing commitment to maintain our quality standards to the highest level through third party surveillance and monitoring.

Our boards are also listed extensively within roof build-ups in ‘RoofNav’ and DensDeck® Roof Boards are the leading choice of cover and roof boards in FM Approved assemblies.

A search of all waterproofing finishes in ‘RoofNav’ shows that out of 729,6831 assemblies using roof cover boards, 398,868 use DensDeck® Roof Boards. That means 55% of all the assemblies that use roof cover boards specify DensDeck® Roof Boards.

If you would like to know how using FM Approved DensDeck® Roof Boards can bring peace of mind when specifying quality roofing solutions for your next project, please get in touch with one of our team.

1 Audit carried out on 16th August 2023

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