The reaction to fire performance requirements for FRP addressed in the IBC are for the following applications: interior finish, light transmitting materials and exterior use. The key fire tests for interior finish are ASTM E84 and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 286. The key fire tests for light transmitting materials are ASTM D1929, ASTM E84, ASTM D2843 and ASTM D635. The key tests for exterior use are ASTM E84, NFPA 285 and NFPA 268. The fire resistance performance requirements addressed in the IBC are substantially based on the fire test ASTM E119, while the roofing system performance requirements are largely based on the fire test ASTM E108.
Other than the bench-scale tests used to evaluate light transmitting materials, all reaction to fire applications as well as fire resistance and roofing system applications covered in the IBC require intermediate-scale to full-testing to demonstrate performance. The use of intermediate-scale and full-scale tests for FRP design and the use of full-scale tests for assembly design are prohibitively costly.
How then can we use the noted fire testing paradigm to design fire safe FRP composites that comply with IBC requirements? Manufacturers should engage with their materials suppliers to understand resin and additive performance based on micro-scale testing such as TGA and DSC. Although these tests are not required by the IBC, they can provide key characteristics of resin and additives that can inform the FRP design process. Candidate FRP composites can then be designed and tested in the Cone at the appropriate incident heat fluxes. These results, in turn, can be used to predict how the FRP candidates will perform as part of components and/or assemblies in the required intermediate-scale and full-scale IBC tests. Use of the Cone combined with predictive tools that use characteristics measured in the Cone for FRP design will limit the number of intermediate-scale and full-scale tests needed to demonstrate performance required by the IBC.
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