Volume 6, Issue 8 (September 2009)
Cone Calorimeter—A Cautionary Tale
Taking the fire regulations, test methods, and criteria used in one country and adopting them in another without looking at potential effects may have serious consequences. The basis of the reaction to fire classification of products for the Taiwanese market is to be amended. The system to be adopted currently forms the basis for the reaction to fire requirements in Japan, a country which is market protective and which is not reliant on imported building products. Taiwan is almost a mirror image of this. It has little or no building product industry of its own and is therefore totally reliant on imported goods. To make matters more difficult, it conducts port-side testing to ensure regulatory compliance. The results from the cone calorimeter test will be required to be less than 8 MJ for the measured total heat release. At these low levels of heat release, the stability of the classification system may be difficult to ensure as a consequence of the “uncertainty of measurement” associated with the “standard” cone calorimeter test. This would cause a lack of reliability in the classification and could significantly reduce the number and type of products reliably achieving each class, therefore greatly limiting the choice of product on the Taiwanese market. This study looks at the stability of the 8 MJ criteria and the adoption of a test standard intended for use in another market. It considers the consequences of increasing this criteria to a value where the uncertainty of the measurement is improved, without having a detrimental effect on fire safety.