Multiple firefighter fatalities at large commercial fires attract the attention and scrutiny they warrant. However, the fire service must also recognize that most line-of-duty injuries and deaths occur in single- and multiple-family dwellings during routine, "bread-and-butter" fires. A review of...
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The Research Evidence
UL and its partners were awarded the AFG funding to subject a representative group of floor and roof assemblies to the industry-standard fire-resistance testing method, ASTM E119: Fire Tests of Building and Construction Materials. The experimental series consisted of 12 furnace fire tests of assemblies representative of typical residential "legacy" and "modern" floor and roof construction. The tests included six structural elements, three ceiling-finish configurations, four floor or roof finishes and three floor-penetration configurations. All of the test assemblies conformed to the dimensions and span of the available test furnace (14 by 17 feet). Measurements taken during each experiment include observation of the conditions of the ceiling and floor or roof surfaces, temperatures in the concealed space above the ceiling membrane, deflections of the floor and roof surfaces, and failure times of the tested assemblies.
This research conformed to the standard requirements of the ASTM E119 testing method with one exception — the applied floor and roof loading was less than the ASTM E119 loading requirements. The ASTM E119 testing method is normally used to certify fire-resistive construction. The standard set by ASTM E119 describes a fire-test method that establishes a benchmark fire-resistance performance between different types of building assemblies. This test relies on a standardized fire and time temperature curve intended to represent a fully developed contents fire within a residential or commercial structure with temperatures reaching 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit at five minutes and 1,700°F at 60 minutes. The ASTM E119 fire-endurance test is designed to express fire resistance ratings in terms of hours: half-hour, one-hour, two-hour, three-hour or four-hour rated assemblies. These hourly time ratings are not intended to convey the actual time a specific component or assembly will withstand a real fire event. Variations result from room size, combustible content and ventilation conditions. The ASTM E119 test method is designed to provide a useful benchmark for use by building code officials and fire protection engineers, enabling a comparison of fire performance between test samples within the laboratory environment.
Following are some findings from the research: