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Fire test

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A fire test is a means of determining whether or not fire protection
Fire protection
Fire protection is the study and practice of mitigating the unwanted effects of fires. It involves the study of the behaviour, compartmentalisation, suppression and investigation of fire and its related emergencies, as well as the research and development, production, testing and application of...

 products meet minimum performance criteria as set out in a building code
Building code
A building code, or building control, is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures. The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the...

 or other applicable legislation. Successful tests in laboratories holding national accreditation for testing and certification result in the issuance of a certification listing
Certification listing
A certification listing is a document used to guide installations of certified products against which a field installation is compared to make sure that it complies with a regulation, such as a building code...

. The listing is public domain, whereas the test report itself is proprietary information belonging to the test sponsor.

There are many different types of fire tests apart from those on firestops. Walls and floors themselves can be tested, closures within them, such as windows, fire door
Fire door
A fire door is a door with a fire-resistance rating used as part of a passive fire protection system to reduce the spread of fire or smoke between compartments and to enable safe egress from a building or structure or ship...

s, fire dampers, structural steel
Structural steel
Structural steel is steel construction material, a profile, formed with a specific shape or cross section and certain standards of chemical composition and mechanical properties...

 and more. Fire tests are conducted both on active fire protection
Active fire protection
Active fire protection is an integral part of fire protection. AFP is characterised by items and/or systems, which require a certain amount of motion and response in order to work, contrary to passive fire protection.-Fire suppression:...

 and on passive fire protection
Passive fire protection
Passive fire protection is an integral component of the three components of structural fire protection and fire safety in a building. PFP attempts to contain fires or slow the spread, through use of fire-resistant walls, floors, and doors...

 items. Each have different test methods and scales. There are full scale, small scale and bench scale tests. There are tests on system
System is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole....

s, such as the one below, but there are also tests on materials, such as intumescent
An intumescent is a substance which swells as a result of heat exposure, thus increasing in volume, and decreasing in density. Intumescents are typically used in passive fire protection and, in America, require listing and approval use and compliance in their installed configurations in order to...

s, to be sure of components that may be used within a system.

Fire testing must consider all applicable provisions of the intended product certification
Product certification
Product certification or product qualification is the process of verifying that a certain product has passed performance tests and quality assurance tests or qualification requirements stipulated in contracts, regulations, or specifications...

. It is also prudent to test products in such a manner as to ensure ease of use and broad, economical applications with regards to listing and approval use and compliance.

Examples of fire testing for products and systems

Organisations that perform fire testing

  • SINTEF NBL (Norwegian Fire Research Laboratory)
  • Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association Laboratory
  • Chiltern International Fire
  • Exova Warringtonfire
  • Intertek Group
    Intertek Group
    Intertek Group plc is a global inspection, product testing and certification company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the largest tester of consumer goods in the world and has a network of more than 1,000 laboratories in over 100 countries....

  • Building Test Centre - British Gypsum
  • Underwriters Laboratories
    Underwriters Laboratories
    Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is an independent product safety certification organization. Established in 1894, the company has its headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois. UL develops standards and test procedures for products, materials, components, assemblies, tools and equipment, chiefly dealing...

  • FM Global
    FM Global
    FM Global is a U.S.-based insurance company, with offices worldwide, that specializes in loss prevention services primarily to large corporations throughout the world in the Highly Protected Risk property insurance market sector. "FM Global" is the communicative name of the company, whereas the...

  • National Research Council in Canada
  • iBMB at Technische Universität Braunschweig
    Technische Universität Braunschweig
    The TU Braunschweig is the oldest University of Technology in Germany. It was founded in 1745 as Collegium Carolinum and is a member of TU9, an incorporated society of the most renowned and largest German Institutes of Technology. Today it has about 13,000 students, making it the third largest...

  • Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada
  • BAM Berlin
  • TNO, The Netherlands
    Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research
    Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek or TNO is a not-for-profit organization in the Netherlands that focuses on applied science. The main office of TNO is located in Delft...

Ad hoc fire testing

A fire test can also mean an ad hoc test performed to gather information in order to understand a specific hazard, such as a construction or storage configuration. Tests can be bench scale (e.g., flammable liquid flash point), medium scale (e.g., storage commodity classification), or full scale (e.g., replication of an entire rack storage configuration). Typical information gathered from full scale testing is heat release rate vs. time, smoke production and species composition, radiant heat, and interaction with fire control or suppression systems.

Fire test examples

Many fire tests are run by official laboratories for the purpose of product certification. However, some manufacturers of fire protection products also maintain their own facilities and run tests for R & D
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 purposes before going to the expense and exposure of a test at a third party facility.

Some universities have functioning fire research groups which are equipped to run fire tests on building materials.
The below photos illustrate types of furnace testing as seen in the United states.
The use of inadequate fire testing and lack of product certification
Product certification
Product certification or product qualification is the process of verifying that a certain product has passed performance tests and quality assurance tests or qualification requirements stipulated in contracts, regulations, or specifications...

 on circuit integrity
Circuit integrity
Circuit integrity refers to the operability of electrical circuits during a fire. It is a form of fire-resistance rating. Circuit integrity is achieved via passive fire protection means, which are subject to stringent listing and approval use and compliance.-Fireproofing:Providing fireproofing for...

Fireproofing, a passive fire protection measure, refers to the act of making materials or structures more resistant to fire, or to those materials themselves, or the act of applying such materials. Applying a certification listed fireproofing system to certain structures allows these to have a...

 of electrical wiring between nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s and control rooms in nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plant
A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is one or more nuclear reactors. As in a conventional thermal power station the heat is used to generate steam which drives a steam turbine connected to a generator which produces electricity.Nuclear power plants are usually...

s led to the Thermo-Lag scandal, which became known as a result of disclosures by whistleblower
A whistleblower is a person who tells the public or someone in authority about alleged dishonest or illegal activities occurring in a government department, a public or private organization, or a company...

 Gerald W. Brown
Gerald W. Brown
Gerald W. "Jerry" Brown is an American whistleblower who concerned himself with deficiencies in passive fire protection systems in US and Canadian nuclear power plants.-Thermo-Lag scandal:...

 to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that was established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 from the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and was first opened January 19, 1975...

, watchdog groups and the press.

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