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NFPA 285 and Metal Composite Material in a nutshell

Due to increasing awareness of fires by the International Building Code (IBC) officials, a test was created to evaluate the potential of flame propagation of various combustible components within a wall assembly, thus, NFPA 285 was formed. NFPA 285 is the “Standard Test Method for Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components.” The standard test consists of a whole wall assembly with an opening on the lower half. It is designed to mimic a flash-over fire that starts inside a room and expands outward through the window. During the 30 minute laboratory test, visual and mechanical scales are used to measure vertical and lateral flame propagation.

More specifically:

  • From the compartment of fire origin to adjacent compartments;
  • Within the combustible core or within combustible components;
  • Over the exterior face of the wall assembly.

NFPA applies to all buildings of Type I, II, III, and IV construction. It is a wall assembly test so all components must be tested together to be compliant, meaning you cannot take individually tested components, put them together, and be equal to a fully tested wall assembly.

In 2012, the International Building Code (IBC) officials established a criteria to determine situations where standard core (also known as PE Core) and Fire Retardant core is to be used in commercial construction. The key elements that determine which types of product shall be used includes:

  • Panel height above grade or grade plane;
  • Wall construction type;
  • Proximity to the property line or other structures within the property boundaries.

As always, let us know if you have any more questions about the ins and outs of NFPA 285.

Rule of thumb: if MCM panels are installed on a building higher than 40 feet, non-combustible components must be used and the performance criteria of NFPA 285 must be met.




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