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July/August 2009
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Fire Resistance

Subcommittee E05.11 on Fire Resistance, part of ASTM International Committee E05 on Fire Standards, is currently developing a number of proposed standards, including the following three test methods on vented construction systems, furnace exposure on test samples and tunnel fire resistance.

All parties interested in fire resistance standards are encouraged to join in the activities of E05.11.

Vented Construction

Understanding how construction systems will perform in the earliest moments of a fire is crucial. A proposed new ASTM standard will provide tests for evidence on how vented construction systems are affected by the first five minutes of a fire and will be used to complement existing fire testing methods’ test results. WK22660, Test Method for Evaluating Fire Performance of Vented Construction, is being developed by Subcommittee E05.11.

“New fire protection elements used in fire rated vented construction recently developed and currently in use in Europe are making their way into North America,” says Amal Tamim, section manager, fire engineering, COWI Gulf, and a longtime E05 member. These vented construction elements are used for natural venting in walls and floors, and are also used within cavities and voids.

According to Tamim, the proposed standard will provide local authorities and designers with a measure of fire performance in the initial phases of fire exposure of vented construction systems and a tool to compare fire performance of all products used for both fire safety and ventilation of buildings without having to compromise one or the other.

“Natural venting of buildings is getting more attention as sustainable and energy efficient building construction is now a priority for designers and communities,” says Tamim.

Interested parties are encouraged to participate in the ongoing development of WK22660.

Furnace Exposure

Fire test laboratories and fire protection engineers will be the primary users of proposed new standard WK23795, Test Method for Measuring the Uniformity of Furnace Exposure on Test Samples. The proposed standard provides general principles for measuring the uniformity of furnace exposure on samples tested in accordance with the following standards:

  • E119, Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials;
  • E814, Test Method for Fire Tests of Penetration Firestop Systems;
  • E1725, Test Methods for Fire Tests of Fire-Resistive Barrier Systems for Electrical System Components;
  • E1966, Test Method for Fire-Resistive Joint Systems; and
  • E2336, Test Methods for Fire-Resistive Grease Duct Enclosure Systems.

“Data generated by the proposed standard should enable better use of test method E119 test results in performance based code applications and provide a basis for establishing furnace calibration standards,” says Robert Berhinig, Berhinig Services, LLC and an E05 member.

Tunnel Fire Resistance

Fires in tunnels can reach temperatures as high as 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius), but current standards that deal with building fires provide for a maximum temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 degrees Celsius) and are not specific to tunnels. A proposed new standard, WK23821, Test Methods for Tunnel Fire Resistance, will be developed with the special considerations of tunnel fires in mind.

According to Barry Badders, manager of the fire resistance section within the fire technology department at Southwest Research Institute, WK23821 will provide a minimum fire standard with regard to structural stability and compartmentation for tunnel construction. “Once approved, the proposed standard will be available for reference in codes regulating the construction of tunnels and will be used by manufacturers to demonstrate that their products meet minimum standards,” says Badders.

CONTACT

Technical Information: (WK22660) Amal Tamim, COWI Gulf, Ruwi, Oman

Phone: +011-968-24-604-200

(WK23795) Robert Berhinig, Berhinig Services LLC, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Phone: 847-253-0324

(WK23821) Barry Badders, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas

Phone: 210-522-3971

ASTM Staff: Thomas O’Toole

Phone: 610-832-9739