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Polyiso Fire Performance

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 11, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2019

All construction materials, including insulation products like polyiso, must provide a suitable margin of fire safety. Polyiso insulation products are tested per material-specific tests as well as part of full assemblies that test fire performance as constructed. Importantly, polyiso possesses a high level of inherent fire resistance when compared to other insulations due to its unique structure of strong chemical bonds. These bonds result in improved high temperature resistance (up to 390 degrees F – more than twice the temperature resistance of some other building insulation products), which in turn leads to enhanced fire resistance. In addition, polyiso does not melt or drip when exposed to flame. The product forms a protective surface char that enhances its fire resistance in terms of reduced flame spread and the potential to contribute to flashover.

For more information on polyiso insulation’s performance in fire tests, consult the following Technical Bulletins:




Tags:  fire performance  insulation  NFPA 285  Polyiso 

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Justin Koscher Featured Educational Speaker at 2019 RCI International Convention & Trade Show Monday, March 18, 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2019

PIMA President Justin Koscher along with Lorraine Ross of Intech Consulting, Inc. will present at the RCI convention to provide U.S. practitioners with answers, information, and guidance on how to harmonize the goals of building fire safety and energy efficiency. Information presented will be derived from consensus codes and standards, industry research and testing, and best practice guidance documents.

The tragic June 2017 fire at the Grenfell Tower in London has led British authorities to conduct a comprehensive review of building fire regulations intended to provide answers on how the fire occurred and what should be done to prevent a future tragedy. The Grenfell Tower fire has communities outside of England asking, could this type of fire happen here?

The presentation will:

  • Highlight specifically how U.S. codes and standards create a system approach to controlling the use of foam plastic insulation products in commercial buildings of varying heights
  • Detail resources that are available to help ensure buildings here in the U.S. are built and renovated to greatly reduce fire incidents and losses when fires do occur
  • Present examples of approved assemblies in a variety of exterior walls that utilize foam plastic insulation for different construction configurations
  • Provide guidance on how fire safety can be maintained throughout the design process and construction phases

Tags:  building codes  fire performance  insulation  NFPA 285 

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NFPA 285

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Improvements to the building envelope through the use of continuous insulation solutions have played a major role in mainstreaming high-performance construction practices that meet the requirements of commercial building energy codes. To meet the demands of today’s builds, architectural and design professionals must balance energy efficiency with whole building performance considerations, including fire safety. With respect to wall assemblies in Type I-IV Construction, understanding and properly implementing NFPA 285 can be a critical component for designing a compliant, high-performance building envelope.

NFPA 285 is a fire test standard that measures the flammability characteristics of exterior wall assemblies. More specifically, and according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), it “provides a standardized fire test procedure for evaluating the suitability of exterior, non-load bearing wall assemblies and panels used as components of curtain wall assemblies that are constructed using combustible materials or that incorporate combustible components for installation on buildings where the exterior walls are required to be non-combustible.” While the individual products used in the wall assembly carry product-specific fire tests, it is important that entire wall assemblies are tested to meet approved fire performance requirements and ensure the safety of the building occupants.

The NFPA 285 test is performed on both load-bearing and non-load-bearing wall assemblies. It requires a wall assembly mockup spanning two stories (18’ high) with a test room on each floor. A single window opening is provided in the first-story room where a test burner is located. This burner is ignited in order to simulate an interior room fire. A second burner located on the exterior side of the test wall further enhances the flames to the window header. The test simulates a common, real-world interior fire scenario that reaches flashover, breaches a window, and spreads upward along the wall face. The test examines fire performance of the entire wall assembly, including within the wall assembly. It’s important to note also that the test is conducted without any interior fire suppression system.

To pass the NFPA 285 test, flame propagation cannot occur on or within the wall assembly beyond a certain distance either vertically or laterally from the area of flame plume impingement. Thermocouples are placed throughout the wall assembly to measure temperatures. Exceeding defined temperature limits results in a test failure. Additional requirements include:

  • No flame propagation in second-floor room;
  • The inside wall assembly thermocouples shall not exceed 1000°F rise during the 30-minute test;
  • External flames shall not reach 10′ above the top of the window; and
  • The external flame shall not reach 5′ laterally from the center line of the window.

It is a common misconception that only foam insulation products trigger NFPA 285. While any wall containing foam plastic insulation in Types I-IV Construction must comply with the test requirements, the use of other wall assembly configurations may also need to pass NFPA 285. These assemblies can include those constructed with combustible claddings and weather resistant barriers.

Since 2000, NFPA 285 has been in the International Building Code (IBC) and has gained attention due to the increased diversity in exterior wall systems and greater compliance with building energy efficiency standards. To learn more about NFPA 285, please refer to the National Fire Protection Association.

Tags:  building codes  building envelope  fire performance  NFPA 285  Type I-IV 

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National Insulation Fly-In Day a Success

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Thursday, May 31, 2018

More than 130 insulation industry professionals recently gathered in Washington, DC for the second-annual Insulation Industry National Policy Forum. They met with 82 Congressional offices and Members of Congress – including Senator Rob Portman (Ohio) who has introduced a bill that would strengthen the nation’s commitment to energy efficiency – S. 385 The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. In addition, leaders from the Department of Energy, White House and U.S. Congress addressed the industry – including Representative Adam Kinzinger (IL), a leader on energy efficiency issues in Congress.  This year’s event included nearly 50 percent more attendees when compared to 2017 attendance numbers.

PIMA was a lead organizer of the fly-in event and some of the key points the association and it members made to lawmakers included:

  • The insulation industry employs more than 529,000 people and creates over $30 billion in annual payrolls.
  • The insulation manufacturing sector employs 37,000 Americans in 42 states with the largest number of manufacturing jobs located in Ohio.
  • Building energy codes – a driver for the use of insulation – are projected to save the US economy $126 billion in energy cost savings between 2010 and 2040.
  • Federal investments to resilient buildings provides a positive ROI for taxpayer dollars – a recent study demonstrates that exceeding the 2015 International Building Codes can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent. The insulation industry produces technology that contributes toward the value of these mitigation efforts.

The fly-in, and events like it, provide opportunities to ensure elected officials hear from and understand the importance of both the roofing and insulation industries to the overall U.S. economy. During our meetings on Capitol Hill with key lawmakers we also discussed workforce issues, funding for Department of Energy programs that support building energy efficiency, and buildings as key components of a resilient national infrastructure.

To view images from the fly-in, click here!

Tags:  Adam Kinzinger  building codes  buildings  Congress  Efficiency  energy codes  energy efficiency  fire performance  insulation  jobs  manufacturing  Polyiso 

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Polyiso’s Trusted Fire Performance Brings Benefits to Wall Market

Posted By Nathan Pobre, Thursday, May 17, 2018

Polyiso roof insulation has long been championed by the construction industry for its excellent fire and thermal performance. As the most widely used insulation product for low-slope commercials roofs, polyiso remains the only foam plastic insulation product for direct application to steel decks to earn FM Approval for Class 1 Roof System. Polyiso’s inherent fire resistance characteristics are due to its unique structure of strong isocyanate chemical bonds. This produces a versatile product that roofing contractors have come to rely on for all types of roof systems.

The same physical properties that make polyiso a top choice for roofs also make the product an excellent option for continuous insulation applications for both commercial and residential walls. Thousands of exterior wall assemblies with polyiso insulation meet the stringent NFPA 285 test standard. This enables polyiso insulation to be used in buildings of any type and any height. And offers design professional flexibility to combine polyiso with a wide variety of other wall components to construct attractive and resilient building envelopes.  

Polyiso wall insulation products also share the roofing products’ characteristic for high thermal resistance. Packing more R-value into every inch of product allows architects to reduce the thickness of wall assemblies. This creates advantages for the installation process and also can reduce the cost of other components like fastener and attachment systems. Furthermore, polyiso products can also serve as air, moisture and weather barriers in wall assemblies.  

Whether you are designing roofs or walls, polyiso insulation products check all the boxes for fire and thermal performance and overall versatility.

The following resources provide additional information on polyiso insulation’s excellent fire performance:

Tags:  fire performance  insulation  polyiso  r-value  walls 

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