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Classifying the flammability of textiles

Resources | September 1, 2011 | By:

My fire marshal wants to know if the interior awning I’m installing is Class A. The fabric is certified to NFPA 701; does that mean it’s Class A?

Using Classes A thru C is how the International Building Code (IBC) classifies the flammability of textiles in some applications. It’s based on a combination of flame spread and smoke developed, numerical values determined by the flammability test ASTM E84. Class A, for example, has a flame spread of 0-25 and a smoke developed rating of 0-450. You can find the full range in Chapter 8 of the IBC, titled “Interior Finishes,” in section 803.1.

While NFPA 701 is a commonly cited flammability test method, it does not measure either flame spread or smoke developed. So, no, having a NFPA 701 flame certificate isn’t likely to appease your fire marshal. Your best bet is to go back to your fabric supplier and see if they’ve had the material tested to ASTM E84.

SOURCE ASTM International

SOURCE International Code Council

SOURCE National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Juli Case is IFAI‘s information and technical services manager.

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