Come to Session M44 today at 11:00 and Session T74 at 3:30 on Tuesday to learn about this topic. In the last 7 years, a series of rather spectacular fires involving exterior wall systems have been publicized. Because these fire occurred in high rise buildings, they received international attention. A combination of new materials, new energy rules, new ideas for weather resistance/moisture control and innovative composite assemblies are presenting some previously unknown challenges. Marry those attributes with an aesthetic quality that the architect is trying achieve, and some very interesting looking (and functional) cladding and façade designs appear. Right at this moment, NFPA, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) and ASTM International are looking at the potential refinements that may be needed in applicable codes and standards to address these designs. This multi-pronged approach is helpful and shows how it takes different groups to look at different solutions to achieve the goal of reducing this particular fire challenge.
-NFPA 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components. The test standard is in cycle and will soon be soliciting public comments on proposed changes to the next edition. The comment period will be open until November 16, 2015.
-FPRF. The FPRF report "Fire Hazards of Exterior Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components" was issued in June of 2014. The report captured information on various fire scenarios and among other subjects discusses the procedures on how these wall assemblies are currently tested. A second phase project dealing specifically with metal composite material panels (MCM Panels) will be launching soon.
-ASTM International. At the ASTM International Committee week in Anaheim (June 15-19), one of the E05 subcommittee discussions centered on a Proposed New Standard Test Method for Determining the Fire-Test Response Characteristics of Building Perimeter Containment Systems Due to External Spread of Fire. Informally known as the “Leap Frog” standard its purpose is to “….evaluate the ability of the exterior wall spandrel panel assembly, with or without glazing, to prevent the spread of fire to the interior of the room or the story immediately above it via fire spread from the exterior of a building.”