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Fire Safety Data

Fire Rating Standards

The International Code Council (ICC) develops model codes and standards “used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. The International Building Code (IBC) is published by the ICC and provides minimum safeguards for building safety and fire prevention of new and existing buildings and structures. Fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted an edition of the IBC at the state or jurisdictional level. Click here for a current list of International Code adoption by state. The following article discusses the 2012 code as it applies to bathroom partitions.

According to the IBC, bathroom partitions are considered interior finish. “Fixed or movable walls and partitions, paneling, wall pads and crash pads, applied structurally or for decoration, acoustical correction, surface insulation or other purposes, shall be considered interior finish if they cover 10 percent or more of the wall or of the ceiling area.

The performance requirements for controlling fire growth within buildings are contained in Chapter 8 of the IBC, Interior Finishes. There are two standards used to measure the fire performance of interior finishes as listed in Section 803, Wall & Ceiling Finishes. The first is ASTM E 84 or UL 723 that tests the surface burning characteristics of building materials. Materials are classified, based on their flame spread & smoke development indexes, as follows:

Classification Flame Spread Index Smoke Development Index
Class A 0-25 0-450
Class B 26-75 0-450
Class C 76-200 0-450

The other standard is a room corner test, performed in accordance with NFPA 286 Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Contribution of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth.

The acceptance criteria for NFPA 286 are as follows:

  1. During the 40 kW exposure, flames shall not spread to the ceiling.
  2. Flame shall not spread to outer extremity of sample on any wall / ceiling.
  3. Flashover, as defined in NFPA 286, shall not occur.
  4. The peak heat release rate throughout the test shall not exceed 800 kW.
  5. The total smoke released throughout the test shall not exceed 1,000 m2

Other sections of the IBC list additional requirements and exceptions.

For example, Section 803.9 of the 2012 IBC states that any interior finish materials that are tested in accordance with & meet the acceptance criteria of NFPA 286 are permitted to be used where a Class A classification under ASTM E 84 is required. Section 803.12 of the 2012 IBC says interior finishes made from high­density polyethylene or polypropylene shall comply with NFPA 286 acceptance criteria. Section 803.1.1 of the 2012 IBC indicates that materials tested I accordance with NFPA 286 aren't required to be tested in accordance with ASTM­E­84.