What do you find when you peer into fire-rated materials and the test standard for NFPA 285?


NFPA 285 and Exterior Wall AssembliesEssentially, you find that there is a system of fire propagation characteristics for combustible materials in exterior wall assemblies, for everything that contributes to supporting, covering, and constructing a building facade. This standard ensures safety when it comes to designing building facades for multistory applications, and what the fire spread limits are for certain kinds of combustible materials. It looks globally at the practice of using certain sets of materials and products for exterior assemblies, dovetailing with additional standards that cover other parts of the overall building engineering process. Of course, this type of rating system can be opaque or confusing to some with a limited professional understanding of how these requirements work.


NFPA 285 and Code Language


Looking through guidance for NFPA 285, you’ll see that building height requirements are often clearly spelled out, in order to provide directives for the construction of exterior wall assemblies. You’ll often see the language that certain buildings of various heights “shall conform” to certain fire performance results. The thickness of exterior installations such as drywall, steel framing, or cladding as well as the weather-resistive barriers and air gaps may also be considered.


Other Considerations


The context of evaluating these assemblies and their fire propagation characteristics can also be thought about in the context of how these buildings are being constructed. For instance, the existence or absence of full sprinkler systems can address some issues related to the fire safety that’s being assessed. Certain kinds of combinations and designs have their own application to NFPA 285 and its use in building codes. In digging through NFPA 285 and other standards, it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture: officials designed this system to address fire risk, and a modern approach cuts down on the tragic destruction that building fires cause. This is especially important in communities that have been ravaged by out-of-control wildfires that make their way to populated areas, as these types of conflagrations have increased in recent years.


ICC NTA helps companies to be successful in navigating the standards such as NFPA 285 and applying them to construction results. We know that it takes some dedicated work to maintain compliance and guarantee success. We work with our client’s business to create the synergies that make work in this demanding field easier and more straightforward. In our view, this work is extremely important for public health and safety, but when it becomes too much of a burden and creates bottlenecks for companies, that is truly unfortunate. Get assistance from a professional organization that cares about the success of builders in today’s highly complex regulatory environment.


Learn more about ICC NTA’s Fire Testing Capabilities here or contact us here to get in touch with an expert.