Volume 49, Issue 2 - February 2014



Don't be Framed

Dear USG,

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is currently addressing proposals related to fire-rated framing. While the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) Chapter 7 tables clearly state where fire protection-rated glazing (tested to NFPA 252/257) versus fire resistance-rated glazing (tested to ASTM E-119) is allowed, the same cannot be said for fire-rated framing. This can cause widespread confusion and even costly misapplications. To address this, NFPA 80 Technical Committee chair Bruce Campbell appointed a task group to draft an annex to NFPA 80 6.3.3 and 6.3.4 at an NFPA 80 meeting last November. The annex hopes to clarify the misuse of fire-protective framing, such as standard hollow metal, in applications where ASTM E-119 is required.

According to the task group, the confusion stems from the existing hollow metal framing listings, which may show compliance with NFPA 252/257 test standards up to 90 minutes. This creates a potential conflict because building code occupancy types and application limitations may require that fire-rated frames installed with fire-rated glazing must also be tested to ASTM E-119. Consider these examples:

• Sidelite/transom frames surrounding a 60- to 90-minute temperature rise door must meet ASTM E-119 testing requirements and must be rated equal to the wall. But what about one- and two-hour stairwells where the building is fully sprinklered? While the door itself may not have to meet temperature rise requirements under the 2006 and 2009 IBC, the sidelite/transom frames must still meet ASTM E-119.

• Sidelite/transom frames that exceed 25 percent of the area of a wall adjoining a partitioned space must meet ASTM E-119 testing requirements and must be rated equal to the wall in which they are installed.

In both cases, standard hollow metal frames listed up to 90 minutes cannot be used because they typically do not limit the temperature-rise of the non-exposed frame surface as required by ASTM E-119.

At the meeting, Kate Steel, representing Steel Consulting Services and who is an NFPA 80 task group member, presented examples demonstrating how confusion surrounding ASTM E-119 testing and code requirements result in the improper installation of products and instances where the authority having jurisdiction has ordered that the non-compliant assembly be removed. As a result, the technical committee finalized language of the proposed annex which confirmed this to be a significant safety issue.

“This is a positive contribution by the NFPA 80 Technical Committee to explain requirements that are often misunderstood by the design professional and code official alike. I spend considerable time answering framing requirement questions—sometimes even after an improper installation has taken place,” says Steel. “Clarity on the issue is needed and the proposed annex will help code users better understand the complexities of the code provisions.”

The annex note has been balloted by the technical committee as part of the proposed first draft revision to NFPA 80 in this code cycle, and the first draft report will be published in March. Public comments to the first draft revisions are due May 16, 2014. The technical committee will meet again this fall to consider public comments on its first draft revisions. Final changes will be published in the 2016 Edition of NFPA 80.


Diana San Diego
Director of marketing
Safti First San Francisco

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