Learn about fire testing

This Issue This is a part of the Skilling the workforce feature

By and - , Build 173

Have you ever wanted to see how building assemblies will actually perform in a fire? A planned BRANZ course will let the building industry get stuck in to fire testing.

ACHIEVING AN acceptable level of fire safety is a critical objective in New Zealand buildings. The ability of building materials and assemblies to prevent the spread of fire is a major factor for attaining fire-safe buildings.

Use building products as intended

Several standardised fire tests are referenced in the New Zealand building regulatory system. These are intended to evaluate how well building materials and assemblies will perform under fire conditions.

Many people in the industry are involved with designing, building, inspecting or maintaining building assemblies that require products tested or assessed under these standards.

Using these products within the intended application that the fire tests or assessments were based on is crucial for the overall building fire-safety strategy to work as expected.

Some construction has fire-safety issues

However, there is strong evidence that many buildings include construction that does not have a proper testing or assessment basis. This makes the fire safety of these buildings questionable.

Aside from potentially not meeting societal fire-safety requirements, fixing these problems once construction is complete can be extremely expensive and time consuming.

There are many potential root causes of these problems, including:

  • a lack of technical knowledge
  • poor awareness of fire-safety implications
  • a lack of available tested or assessed solutions for specific situations.

See product fire demonstrations first hand

Many people in the industry do not have first-hand fire-testing experience and have not had the chance to observe how fire conditions can affect building assemblies.

BRANZ is tackling this problem by developing a fire test standard and assessment course to improve industry knowledge. It will provide those who interact with situations requiring fire-tested or assessed products a chance to learn more about fire test standards and assessment methodologies.

Participants will be able to visit the BRANZ fire lab and see how building products perform under fire conditions and can suggest what they would like to see exposed to fire conditions. However, the final decision on what assemblies will be used in the course will be made by BRANZ. Demonstrations will cover both fire resistance and reaction-to-fire aspects.

Those who deal with fire-tested or assessed products from different angles – for example, fire engineers, architects, building inspectors and builders – will be able to interact, increasing mutual understanding about respective roles and responsibilities.

Initially, this course will be positioned as a continuing professional development (CPD) course for people with a variety of backgrounds. Learning materials will be tailored for different levels of fire-safety background knowledge.

Eventually, the course may be integrated into existing fire-safety educational programmes and qualifications.

It is important to note that completion of this course will not bestow sufficient expertise to provide compliant assessments of the fire performance of any product or assembly. However, participants will have a greater understanding of who can make assessments, acceptable assessment characteristics and what body of evidence should be provided to demonstrate sufficient fire performance for Building Code compliance.

Take part in our survey

As part of the project, BRANZ is running a survey to get feedback from potential course participants. We want you to tell us what you would like to get out of the course and how we might set it up to work best for you.

We will factor in the survey results as we proceed with development and do our best to balance individual preferences. Please take the time to fill out the survey and let us know your thoughts – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Firetesting.

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