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Steiner Tunnel Testing

A proposed new ASTM International standard is being developed for mounting plastic pipe and tube in the Steiner tunnel furnace. The draft procedure will help determine the fire-related properties of the pipe and tube in accordance with E84, Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials.

WK44535, Practice for Mounting of Plastic Pipe, Plastic Tubing, Plastic Pipe and Tubing Materials and Assemblies Incorporating Plastic Pipe and Tubing to be Tested in the Steiner Tunnel Consistent with Standard E84, is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E05.22 on Surface Burning, part of ASTM International Committee E05 on Fire Standards.

According to Joe Zicherman, senior fire consultant, Fire Cause Analysis, and an E05 member, the development of a successful mounting practice will provide reasonable measurement methods to assess flame spread and smoke for plastic piping assemblies for uses in air handling plenums above and below occupied spaces.

“In the absence of a rational standard for mounting pipe for this testing, a range of mounting approaches are being used by different testing laboratories,” says Zicherman. According to Zicherman, variables discussed in the draft include:

  • The amount of pipe to be evaluated in the furnace;
  • Whether single and/or multiple runs of pipe are tested;
  • Whether assembles of plastic pipe such as those in multiple runs in pipe racks should be tested; and
  • Whether piping insulation should be tested.

In addition, Zicherman notes that testing of plastic pipe with water has been discussed, since water-filled pipe mimics the performance of supply piping in a building.

Once approved, the proposed standard will be of specific use to laboratories conducting E84 testing. In addition, the method will be useful for third-party listing and labeling agencies and building designers and code enforcers who rely on E84 flamespread and smoke developed ratings of products in a range of applications.

Participation, particularly from regulators, in the ongoing development of WK44535 is encouraged. The subcommittee is also continuing work on a another potential mounting method, WK37193, Practice for Specimen Preparation and Mounting of Plastic Pipe and Plastic Tubing for Building Applications to Assess Surface Burning Characteristics.

CONTACT Technical Information: Joe Zicherman, Fire Cause Analysis • Berkeley, Calif. • Phone: 510-649-1300 | ASTM Staff: Thomas O’Toole • Phone: 610-832-9739 | Upcoming Meeting: • June 23-26 • June Committee Week • Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.