Fire Resistance Testing

What are Fire Resistance Tests?

Fire resistance test setup

Fire resistance tests refer to testing of systems designed to contain or resist fire over a specified period of time. They are very different to reaction to fire tests but are sometimes confused. Fire resistance classifications are often expressed as a period of time such as ‘1 hour fire resistance’ or two numbers such as 30/30 or a combination of letters and numbers such as EI30 or FR60. It is important to understand what each classification means.

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About Fire Resistance Testing

When it comes to fire resistance, the most common elements to consider are integrity (E), insulation (I), heat radiation (W) and load bearing capacity (R).

  • ‘Integrity’ is the length of time that the insulated panel system retains its integrity against flames or hot gases in a standard fire. For example, if flames were to break through the system after 100 minutes, the insulated panel system would achieve E90 or 90 minutes integrity.
  • ‘Insulation’ is the time it takes to produce an average increase in temperature of 140°C (250°F in ASTM E119) above the initial temperature or an increase in temperature at one point of 180°C (325°F in ASTM E119) above the initial temperature on the unexposed (cold) side of the insulated panel system. This rise in temperature is measured with multiple thermocouples. Each thermocouple is monitored carefully during the fire resistance test.
  • ‘Heat Radiation’ refers to the ability of the insulated panel system to reduce the transmission of fire as a result of radiated heat from the unexposed surface to adjacent materials. Heat radiation is limited to a maximum of 15kW/m2.
  • ‘Load bearing capacity’ refers to the structural ability of a floor or roof system to resist fire attack.

When it comes to fire resistance the most common elements to consider are integrity (E), insulation (I), heat radiation (W) and load bearing capacity (R).

Which tests are applicable to Fire Resistance?

A suite of tests are applicable to fire resistance including LPCB LPS 1208, BS 476-22, and EN 13501-2.

The pictures below illustrate the test rig for fire resistance. Typically speaking the test rig will be 3m wide by 3m tall. Behind the unexposed surface of the insulated panel is a large furnace, which presents a large fire source to the exposed surface of the insulated panel system. Thermocouples are attached to the unexposed surface face, measuring temperature.

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