Fireproof insulation is tricky because no insulation is entirely fire proof. Typically, this means it is fire rated insulation or fire retardant insulation. To identify fire rated insulation, the most widely used test for assessing the fire resistance of wall and ceiling coverings is the Steiner Tunnel Test. This test used for fire retardant insulation was first published in 1950 by its inventor Albert Steiner of Underwriter’s Laboratories. In 1961 the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) adopted this test as its standard for measuring the surface burning characteristics of building materials. Today this test is known as ASTM-E84 and is the standard for fire rated insulation. This test is a result of several deadly hotel and nightclub fires that occurred in the mid 1940’s.
A brief summary of the Steiner test is as follows: The test uses fiber cement board and red oak as a baseline to for a comparison with the specimen in question. The specimen is measured in terms of flame spread and smoke development. Cement board has a flame spread and smoke development of 0. Red Oak has a flame spread and smoke development of 100.
The test results are divided up into three classes: Class I/Class A = Flame spread 0-25, Smoke Developed 0-450; Class II/B = Flame Spread 26-75, Smoke Developed 0-450; Class III/B = Flame Spread 76-200, Smoke Developed 0-450.
The test is administered over a period of ten minutes in which the specimen in question is installed in the roof of the tunnel as it would be installed in its intended application. Fire is applied to the specimen and notes are taken as flame spreads and smoke develops.
Common Kinds of Fire Rated Insulation
- One brand of un-faced fiberglass batts has a flame spread of 25, and smoke developed of 50.
- One brand of foil faced fiberglass batts has a flame spread of 25, and smoke developed of 50.
- One brand of Polystyrene has a flame spread of 75 flame spread, and smoke developed of 450.
- One brand of XPS has a flame retardant additive to prevent ignition from small sources, but may burn rapidly when exposed to an intense fire. This XPS has a flame spread of 125, and over 500 smoke developed.
It is important to note most building codes for residential buildings require a thermal barrier such as ½” gypsum drywall to isolate the Polystyrene insulation from the interior of the home, as well as an ignition barrier of 3/8” gypsum board when used in attics and crawlspaces.
Ecofoil’s Fire Retardant Metal Building Insulation has a 0 flame spread, 20 smoke developed. Not only does Ecofoil’s Fire retardant Metal Building Insulation perform well on the ASTM-E84, it also passes the full burn room test (NFPA 286). Due to an increase in fire incidents in engineered steel and post frame buildings, codes regarding exposed insulation are becoming more strict.
The Steiner tunnel test (ASTM-E84) is limited in that it does not accurately represent how a given specimen will react to fire in a real environment. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) developed a method to meet this testing need and is one options available for testing fire retardant insulation.
A brief summary of the Full Burn Room Test (NFPA 286) is as follows: The test is administered in a fabricated 8’x12’x8’ room containing one door, lined with the material to be tested. The fire rated insulation material is applied to combinations of walls and ceiling. A burner is placed in the corner furthest from the doorway. A small amount of fire is applied to simulate a fire in a trash can. The controlled is fire intensified to simulate the fire spreading to an item of furniture. Data is collected regarding the timing and scope of flame and smoke within the room.
Fire scientists and prevention engineers prefer this test for fire proof insulation because it accurately represents how a given specimen will react in a real fire situation. The standards of passing NFPA 286 vary depending on the insulation in question, and are beyond the scope of this article.
Ecofoil’s Fire Retardant Metal Building Insulation
is unique because it has a Class I/Class A (ASTM-E84) fire rating AND passes the Full Corner Burn Room Test (NFPA 286). Ecofoil continues to comply with today’s ever changing standards. Learn more about EcoFoil’s compliance with ASTM-E84-09
EcoFoil Reflective Barrier Fire Rated Insulation
EcoFoil bubble insulation and radiant barrier are designed to help eliminate fire-related liability.
In a full room burn test conducted by an independent testing agency, EcoFoil's rFoil 286 never ignited even after 15 minutes! Standard (Class 1/Class A) reflective insulation, however, ignited and was engulfed in flames in under 1 minute.
This reflective fire rated insulation complies with NFPA standards and has a Class 1 / Class A fire rating (ASTM
E84-08). rFoil 286 is patented and specifically designed for applications that require strict code compliance for exposed insulation and fire safety.
Benefits of EcoFoil Fire Retardant Insulation
- Blocks 96% of Radiant Heat Transfer
- Prevents Interior Condensation
- UV, Punture and Tear-Resistant
- Unaffected by Humidity
- Safe, Non-Toxic and Will Not Promote Mold and Mildew
Questions about EcoFoil's Fire Rated Insulation?
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