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Building Code Compliance Drives Material Property Testing
JENSEN HUGHES is uniquely experienced in assisting our clients in determining what testing standards must be met in order to provide a code compliant product. Building codes provide prescriptive requirements limiting the flammability of materials and components installed on and within a building in order to limit the impact of fire on building occupants. Past fire experience has indicated that excessive flammability can reduce tenability in a space preventing occupant escape, lead to loss of a means of egress due to fire, or contribute to excessive fire growth. Our extensive involvement in the building code development process, material testing, and test standard development allows us to guide our clients through the large number of flammability testing requirements.
Determination of a material’s flammability characteristics typically entails conducting standardized testing to evaluate the product’s surface burning characteristics, heat release rate, smoke development, and/or flame spread. JENSEN HUGHES fire protection engineers are active members of numerous fire testing committees tasked with the development and maintenance of these material flammability standard fire test methods. By closely working with industry and regulators, we provide insight into why changes have been made (or why they have not been made), what direction the testing methods are likely going to take, and what influences are effecting the requirements. This knowledge and experience benefits out clients by helping to look ahead to new requirements which may require changing formulations or being proactive by testing to a newer requirement. A wide range of fire testing can be conducted using JENSEN HUGHES’ in-house testing laboratory capabilities. JENSEN HUGHES has the following equipment and capabilities to meet small-scale fire testing needs:
- Cone Calorimeter (ASTM E1354)
- LIFT Apparatus (ASTM E1321)
- Test Rooms
- 1 Megawatt (MW) and 100 kW Oxygen Consumption Calorimeters
Materials tested using the Cone Calorimeter provide heat release rate and smoke production data which can be used in conducting fire hazard assessments, demonstrate variations in product performance, and be used as inputs to flame spread models.
A 10 foot square oxygen consumption calorimeter, with a peak heat release rate capacity of 1 megawatt (MW), provides the capability of conducting room-scale fire testing to assess product code conformance, flammability, fire growth potential, and smoke production. The results of testing using the oxygen consumption calorimeter are used by our clients for research, product development, and fire hazard analyses.
JENSEN HUGHES engineers regularly assist clients in the development of material flammability testing programs for the ultimate purpose of gaining product code compliance and approval. With valuable experience gained while working for commercial testing laboratories, JENSEN HUGHES knows what is required to develop, coordinate, and execute a successful test program of a material or product at a commercial testing laboratory. Our fire protection engineers can coordinate with the client and the commercial fire testing labs to ensure the proper testing is conducted and in a manner that will result in a successful test permitting the marketing of the product. Where necessary, JENSEN HUGHES can conduct an engineering analysis using the testing data obtained from a commercial testing lab to demonstrate that the material, product, or system meets flammability requirements. In certain cases, the results can be extrapolated to similar materials to provide greater flexibility in providing a greater number of materials, products, or systems that provide the required level of protection dictated by the building codes.
Test Standard and Code Development
The testing standards and building code requirements are evolving documents, reacting to new products, safety concerns, or building construction practices. JENSEN HUGHES’ engineers are constantly reviewing, evaluating, and updating these requirements to ensure the highest level of safety is provided. By being a leading advocate for technically sound test methods and code requirements, JENSEN HUGHES can provide our clients with the latest information, trends, and requirements.