All About Fire Tests, Certifications, and More
Fire Safety Standards
State and local regulations are minimum standards that imply the need for stringent pre-fire management standards. This type of regulatory process ensures a series of fire safety standards that predicate upon minimums, but become maximums when applied as law – meaning everyone should be adhering to them. This greater level of protection ultimately makes for less vulnerability. Ultimately, every new building or structure created should be constructed to at least meet these requirements.
National Fire Codes
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “creates and maintains private, copyrighted, standards and codes for usage and adoption by local governments”. These standard codes are annually compiled and adopted by local jurisdictions. NFPA 701 is the most standard methods of fire tests for flame propagation of textiles and films. This test has two test methods based on fabric density.
NFPA test methods explained:
- NFPA 701 test method 1 is a small scale test that addresses materials with an areal density less than or equal to 21 oz/yd2. Some example materials are single-layer fabrics, multilayer curtains and drapery fastened together by sewing or other means, in addition to table skirts, table linens, display booth separators and textile wall hangings. Test method 1 uses 10 samples.
- NFPA 701 test method 2 is a large scale test that addresses fabrics with an areal density weighing more than 21 oz/yd2. Fabrics such as blackout linings, awnings, and architectural fabric banners or structures are tested with a much larger sample than test method 1 because of how hard it is to predict how a heavier fabric will react when exposed to fire.
Other common NFPA tests include:
- NFPA 285 – Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components.
- NFPA 286 – Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Contribution of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth.
Examples of codes that require NFPA 701 certification:
The NFPA 241 is the Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations.
Section 126.96.36.199.1 of NFPA-101 states that combustible scenery of cloth, film, vegetation (dry) and similar materials are to meet the requirements of NFPA 701.
Section 410.3.6 of the IBC states that combustible materials used in sets and scenery are to meet the fire propagation performance criteria of NFPA701 in accordance with Section 806 and the International Fire Code.
International Code Council (ICC)
Section 3102 Membrane Structures
Section 3102.3.1 Membrane and Interior liner material. Membranes and interior liners shall be either noncombustible as set forth in Section 703.4 or meet the fire propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701 and the manufacturer’s test protocol.*
*Exception: Plastic less than 20 mil in thickness used in greenhouses where occupancy by the general public is not authorized, and for aquaculture pond covers is not required to meet the fire propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701.
ASTM tests explained:
The American Society for Testing Materials, or ASTM, also has created a set of standardized test to determine a product’s flammability. Though the ASTM has no role in requiring or enforcing compliance with its standards, they may become mandatory when referenced by an external contract (spec’d products), corporation, or government.
- ASTM D 1929 – Standard Test Methods for Determining Ignition Temperature of Plastics.
- ASTM D 635 – Standard Test Methods for Rate of Burning and/or Extent and Time of Burning of Plastics in a Horizontal Position.
- ASTM E 84 – Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials.
- ASTM E 108 – Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings.
- ASTM E 136 – Standard Test Methods for Behavior of Materials in a Vertical Tube Furnace at 750ºC.
- ASTM E 119 – Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction Materials.
- ASTM E 1354 – Standard Test Methods for Heat and Visible Smoke Release Rates for Materials and Products Using an Oxygen Consumption Calorimeter.
- ASTM E 2307 – Standard Test Methods for Determining Fire Resistance of Perimeter Fire Barriers Using Intermediate-Scale, Multi-Story Test Apparatus.
When to use a fire retardant film or plastic sheeting:
Fire retardant plastic sheeting can be used in applications such as building enclosures, scenery construction, trade show events, and temporary partitions. If you have construction projects that are in the public sector such as hospitals, schools, sports centers, and institutional buildings Americover is your source for fire rated plastic sheeting that meets your project specifications.