Construction companies have some precise standards and criteria to assess fire risk in buildings, according to what’s installed at construction time. Aggregating these requirements has led to significant advances in building safety over the past few decades.
We’ve reviewed many of these standards on our website to help the industry understand the requirements of fire rating standards and how to assess them. One of these standards is NFPA 286, which measures the fire risk of various wall and ceiling finish materials.
What Is NFPA 286?
Some professionals refer to NFPA 286 as the “room corner burn” test. This standard helps measure how wall and ceiling assemblies contribute to a fire risk and, consequently, fire damage.
This standard is a guide for engineers and builders who need to understand fire risk on a project. It serves the purpose of isolating structural components covered by the standard and demonstrating their role in fire risk.
NFPA 286 Techniques
In order to assess wall and ceiling materials, NFPA 286 considers burn behavior and the contribution to fire damage and activity, in part by measuring specific metrics. For example, there’s heat release rate and total heat released. Both of these can contribute to assessments around NFPA 286 and related standards.
In looking at heat release rate and various metrics, engineers consider the oxygen consumed by the fire in a process called “oxygen consumption calorimetry.”
In terms of measuring oxygen consumption, engineers will look at the flow rate, temperature, and oxygen concentration in the test equipment’s exhaust system.
There is also a visual component to NFPA 286 assessments in the form of smoke obscuration. Here, stakeholders can visually assess what happens when a fire starts burning in a particular assembly or space. They can then assess visibility in general and what smoke does to the scenario to further provide fire risk data and risk mitigation insights. Such an assessment may involve:
- Use of photoelectric smoke detectors
- Smoke production relative to alarm thresholds
- Smoke production relative to ignition
- Attended and unattended scenario comparisons
In addition, standards such as NFPA 265 and UL 1715 may apply. UL 1715 Standard for Safety Fire Test of Interior Finish Materials looks at rating various finish materials, and an ISO 9705 full-scale room test will provide context.
UL 1715, FM 4880 Room Corner Test, ISO 9705, CAN/ULC-9705, and CAN/ULC-S145 will relate to components like insulation and protective coverings.
We help with all of this at ICC NTA; our third-party review and consultation provide the safeguards for building projects that help with risk mitigation in an industry that has made fire safety a top priority. From our state-of-the-art testing and engineering facility, we maintain a host of resources for client firms that want to take the guesswork and liability out of fire rating and proving safety outcomes. Get testing, inspection, and certification services from a leader in risk assessment and mitigation, with a track record of successfully advising clients. We are here to help!
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