FRP composites are used in a range of industries such as aerospace, automotive, building construction, infrastructure, and marine and rail passenger transport. FRP materials are attractive to those industries for many reasons, including their high strength-to-weight ratio, ability to be molded into unitary shapes, flexible aesthetics and durability. However, composites have been limited in some applications because of concerns with flammability. All of the above mentioned industries have fire safety regulations for material systems such as FRP.
As the composites industry grows and new applications are developed, it’s important to have a basic understanding of fire safety regulations and fire testing.
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The Role of Fire Tests
Fire safety regulations aim to achieve passive and active protection. Passive protection requirements establish the needed performance for material systems and their assemblies to ensure life safety and property protection. Active protection requirements establish the needed performance for detection, alarm and suppression systems to ensure life safety and property protection.
Passive protection involves two performance requirements: reaction to fire (fire spread) and fire resistance (compartmentation). Reaction to fire is also called fire, smoke and toxicity (FST). A material system and its assembly with good reaction to fire performance will not spread fire beyond the location of fire origin. It will produce low levels of heat release rate and low levels of smoke and toxic species production rates when exposed to a local thermal insult.