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Finishing problems

Like all persons belonging to communities in fire safety, I was horrified by the recent news of the burning of laBoate Kiss of Brazil, in which 242 people died. The fire occurred just days before the tenth anniversary of the burning of The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island (USA), in which 100 people died. The similarities between the two events are sobering, including the problem of certain interior finishes. As in the case ofThe Station fire, combustible foam insulation appears to have been a determining factor in how the fire at the Kiss Boate began and spread.

NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code, refers to this kind of material as "specific material" in subsection 10.2.4, in which a number of materials that have historically generated terrible fires, starting with textiles in walls are analyzed and ceilings, including carpets, referred to in paragraph

We know that the textile items placed on walls and ceilings can ignite very quickly . NFPA 101 includes various kinds of textile installations with different requirements. For example , new textile materials placed on walls and ceilings must have a flame spread rating of 25 or less and be installed in a room protected by sprinklers . If the fabric covers only three fourths of extension from the floor to the ceiling but no taller than 8 feet ( 2.4 meters ), the material must have a flame spread rating of 25 or less if no sprinklers in the building.

Paragraph analyzes expanded vinyl materials used on walls and ceilings. Many vinyl coatings are thin and no major problems from a standpoint of flame propagation , because thin materials tend to adopt the characteristics of fire the material on which they are placed . Moreover, expanded materials often are "fat" and thicker than most common vinyl coatings . The code is rigorous in its requirements , which are very similar to the requirements for textiles applied to walls and ceilings.

The code also analyzes the cellular or foam plastic material affected in The Station fire. The code prohibits the use of foam plastic or foam unless it has been tested on a large scale in order to document their combustibility. The code provides examples of acceptable evidence, such as NFPA 286 standard fire test for assessing the contribution of interior finishes in ceilings and walls growth Room Fire Methods. Cellular or foam plastics can be used as flanges provided they do not cover more than 10tanto por ciento of the walls or ceiling, and "that are not less than 20 pounds / cubic foot (320 kg / cubic meter) of density are limited half an inch (13 millimeters) thick and 4 inches (100 millimeters) wide, and meet the requirements of interior finish of walls and ceilings of Class A or Class B as described in; however, shall not limit the rate of smoke generated. "

A new addition to subsection 10.2.4 , which covers the use of polypropylene and high density polypropylene , prohibits the use of polypropylene as an interior finish material unless it complies with the requirements of , which require testing in accordance with NFPA 286 with the inclusion of specific performance criteria . Also new for the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code requirements of subsection 10.3.8 Cabinet . This subsection provides that the cabinet combustible material other than wood should be considered as interior finish.

The requirements for interior finish materials are in the Life Safety Code for good reason . Experience has shown that the materials applied to the walls and ceilings of spaces can have a significant effect on the development of a fire.


Chip Carson , PE, is president of Carson Associates, Inc. , a consulting engineering firm and fire codes

By Chip Carson, P.E.



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