When dealing with passive fire protection, it is common to refer to the performance of a system generically as “60 minutes fire rated” or more precisely “FRR -/60/60”. In a previous post, we explained the meaning of these values. But where can we obtain this information regarding a specific product or system?
It is essential to ensure that the fire protection documentation is following the Manufacturer’s specification and installation instructions. The Manufacturer is usually the one to provide all the information regarding a system and may provide this information in a way which is easier to understand (such as a drawing or catalogue). However, Manufacturers or Product Suppliers must ensure all product specifications, technical literature and fire performance claims offered are supported by test reports, engineering evaluations or other relevant documentation. Some different types of documentation are listed below:
Fire Test Report: Detailed report prepared by a registered testing authority that describes the tested specimen and results. It generally includes a full description, graphs, observations, results, FRR and direct field of application. It also states what variations can be made to the product that does not require referral to a registered testing authority.
Regulatory Information Report: A regulatory information report is prepared by a registered testing authority and provides the minimum information about a tested system required for regulatory compliance. It includes details of the fire test, the construction of the test specimen and results obtained. It is also common for these to be a summary of various test reports for the same product family.
Assessment report or letter of opinion: Assessment reports are useful for extending the specification of a tested specimen (for example, to allow the dimensions of a component to be varied within stated limits). Assessment reports should be based on test results or by applying a relevant standard, calculation method or engineering principles, and this should be described in the report. An assessment report should be signed/dated and should be prepared by an accredited fire testing laboratory or an independent third-party fire-testing expert acceptable to the BCA.
CodeMark certificate: A CodeMark certificate gives the stated performance of the passive fire protection and lists the NZBC clauses that apply. A BCA must accept a CodeMark certificate as evidence of compliance. CodeMark certificates must be carefully read to ensure that the product is used within the scope of the certification to the applicable NZBC clauses and the level of performance. CodeMark-certified products have to be assessed by an accredited product certification body.
Appraisal certificate: Various independent organisations produce documents ascribing conformity of a product to specific performance criteria – for example, BRANZ Appraisals. These documents confirm the fire performance of a product or system. An appraisal should involve a review of all the relevant reports and assessments by an expert. It may cover multiple NZBC clauses and will generally include processes to ensure quality control checks on the manufacture of the appraised product. A manufacturer’s catalogue may also be reviewed as part of an appraisal, providing independent verification of the technical content.
Manufacturer’s recommendation, datasheet, catalogue: A manufacturer may provide catalogues and datasheets. These may contain references to test report, assessment or appraisal reference numbers and the organisation issuing these documents. A manufacturer’s recommendation is generally linked to a specific form of construction that they are prepared to back with a warranty provided the installation is following their detailed specification. These documents should not be used as the sole means of verifying the performance of a building element.
Test certificate: This may be only a single page and is used for marketing and initial verification of fire performance. It is not intended for regulatory acceptance or to give sufficient information for the construction of the specimen to be verified on site. The certificate may not provide enough information for installation and should be used in conjunction with the Manufacturer’s full specification.
Designers may use any of the documents to help on the selection and specification of the appropriate passive fire protection systems. However, only the first five should be used to verify the FRR, to determine the correct installation requirements and as building consent or Code compliance documentation.
It is also common for Building Consent Authorities and Inspectors to request a copy of one of the testing documents at any stage of the project. As such, it is expected that manufacturers and suppliers would promptly provide the specific documentation upon request by any professional involved in passive fire protection, such as designers, installers and inspectors.
Note: Some reports may have stated periods of validity. Any reports outside their time limit should be referred to the sponsor of the report (usually the Manufacturer), and products should not be used until the sponsor confirms that the report remains valid (usually by providing an updated report).
Check also our article in Important Aspects of Passive Fire Protection.