Are those palm trees outside your hotel window real or simulated? Could they be made of plastic? If so, they can pose a significantly greater hazard than real palm trees in a fire event.
The nature of that hazard, both inside and outside buildings, and how it is addressed by NFPA codes and standards is the focus of "Looks Nice. Burns Hot," a feature story in the new May/June issue of NFPA Journal by staff writer Ashley Smith.
The story is tied to an education session at the upcoming NFPA conference in Las Vegas, and while the ed session will concentrate on decorative features on the Las Vegas Strip, the problem is actually international in scope. Buildings around the world include decorative features, either on or adjacent to the structures, that are made of various types of plastic that can burn much hotter and quicker than conventional construction materials. A fire at a Las Vegas hotel last year, pictured at right, involved plastic palm trees on the hotel's pool deck; a local fire official said the plastic trees acted like "solid gasoline" in helping the fire "take off like a rocket." The blaze resulted in $2 million in damage.
Codes currently do not address exterior decorations, though some safety officials are advocating for the inclusion of exterior elements. The codes do cover a variety of interior decorations.
The story is part of NFPA Journal's comprehensive Conference & Expo preview coverage.