Everyone in the fire protection community knows that interior finishes can present serious fire safety issues, having contributed in the past to significant loss of life in a number of assembly occupancy fires, from the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire to last year’s Boate Kiss nightclub fire in Brazil. And some of today’s newer interior finishes, such as polypropylene and high-density polyethylene, present even more serious fire challenges if untreated.
, Life Safety Code®, has regulated interior finishes since the 1920s, when it was known as the Building Exits Code. According to NFPA 101, large-scale tests must be used to measure the combustibility and smoke release characteristics of these new materials for the use intended under actual fire conditions. One means of evaluation is described in NFPA 286, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Contribution of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth. If a test does not evaluate smoke release, the material should also be tested per NFPA 286 to obtain smoke release data.
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