ICC Approves New Additions to Fire Safety Codes,
Disapproves Familiar Proposals
May 21, 2010
The International Code Council (ICC) approved several changes to
the International Building Code's (IBC) Fire Safety section during
this week's final action hearings.
Among the proposals was one that added a new exception to section
714.4 on curtainwall/floor intersections (FS88); it was approved
as modified. The code states in section 714.4 on exterior curtain
Where fire resistance-rated floor or floor/ceiling assemblies
are required, voids created at the intersection of the exterior
curtain wall assemblies and such floor assemblies shall be sealed
with an approved system to prevent the interior spread of fire.
Such systems shall be securely installed and tested in accordance
with ASTME 2307 to prevent the passage of flame for the time period
at least equal to the fire resistance rating of the floor assembly
and prevent the passage of heat and hot gases sufficient to ignite
cotton waste. Height and fire-resistance requirements for curtain
wall spandrels shall comply with Section 705.8.5.
The proposal from James P. Stahl Jr., representing Specified Technologies
Inc., added this exception:
Voids created at the intersection of the exterior curtain wall
assemblies and such floor assemblies where the vision glass extends
to the finished floor level shall be permitted to be sealed with
an approved material to prevent the interior spread of fire. Such
material shall be securely installed and capable of preventing
the passage of flame and hot gases sufficient to ignite cotton
waste where subjected to ASTM E119 time-temperature fire conditions
under a minimum positive pressure differential of 0.01 inch (0.254
mm) of water column (2.5 Pa) for the time period at least equal
to the fire-resistance rating of the floor assembly.
Stahl says that the proposed change would reinstate an allowance
for testing some curtainwall assemblies, specifically those which
incorporate full height vision glass, based on fire exposure to
an ASTM E119 time-temperature curve, an allowance that was removed
in the 2009 edition of the IBC.
During the code change hearing opponents of the proposal expressed
concern that allowances should be made to a standard developed specifically
for fire resistance protection.
Maureen Traxler, representing the City of Seattle Department of
Planning and Development, requested disapproval of the change. In
her comments on the proposal, Traxler wrote, "The reason given
for introducing the exception is 'there is a problem for certain
types of assemblies in terms of being able to meet the new performance
criteria.' In other words, the assembly shouldn't be required to
be tested because it can't pass the test."
Howard Hopper of Underwriters Laboratories further commented that
the change indicates manufacturers can pass a test instead of complying
with the standard, but that no information was give about how to
conduct that test appropriately.
Traxler further noted, "Testing according to ASTM E 2307 is
required because there is a danger of fire lapping from floor to
floor on the interior side of curtain walls. That danger is no less
when glass extends to the floor. This code change proposal should
be disapproved because no technical justification was provided to
show why this construction should not be required to comply with
the ASTM standard."
Vickie Lovell, representing 3M, told the ICC assembly yesterday,
"If there's a problem with leapfrogging, that's an exterior
building problem, that needs to be addressed in a different way.
[The proposal] doesn't solve the problem of exterior leapfrog effect
on the curtainwall."
ICC also approved as submitted a proposal that removes an exception
to 722.214.171.124 on glazing in doors and allows for the use of fire
resistance-rated glazing larger than 100 square inches in doors
(FS100). The section, with the change, would now state:
Fire-protection-rated glazing in excess of 100 sq inches (0.065
m2) is not permitted. Fire resistance rated glazing in excess
of 100 sq inches (0.065 m2) shall be permitted in fire door assemblies
when tested as components of the door assemblies, and not as glass
lights, and shall have a maximum transmitted temperature rise
of 450o F (250o C) in accordance with 715.4.4.
William F. O'Keeffe of SAFTI First reasoned that the change "will
make the size limits fire protection glazing in 60-and 90-minute
doors in exit enclosures and passageways consistent with size limits
for 60-and 90-minute doors elsewhere in the code."
The now deleted exception had stated:
The maximum transmitted temperature end rise is not required
in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system
installed in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or 903.3.1.2.
According to O'Keeffe, "The presence of sprinklers in the
building does not eliminate the life safety and fire spread hazard
posed by unrestricted transmission of radiant heat flux through
large sizes of fire protection rated glazing panels in 60-and-90-minute
doors, especially when those doors are protecting exit enclosures
and exit passageways deemed essential for occupant life safety."
O'Keeffe also proposed a modified change to the method of labeling
fire-rated glazing that ICC approved as submitted (FS101).
The code addition states:
1703.5.4 Method of labeling. Information required to be permanently
identified on the product shall be acid etched, sand blasted,
ceramic fired, laser etched, embossed or of a type that, once
applied, cannot be removed without being destroyed.
O'Keeffe explained that the language for providing a method of
permanently identifying information required by the code on the
label was taken from Section 2403.1, which applies to the permanent
identification of information on glazing required by Chapter 24.
"This clarifies that the same method of permanent identification
applies to other labeling required in the code, and specifically,
Chapter 7," O'Keeffe commented.
The assembly approved as modified by a comment a proposal that
clarified language in section 715.5 by changing references to glazing
and fire windows to "fire window assemblies" (FS102).
O'Keeffe explained that this proposal clarifies "that fire
protection-rated window assemblies are subject to area limits. Since
there are some window assemblies that are fire resistance rated
to ASTM E119, this code change aids the user in clarifying that
fire protection rated window assemblies are subject to these limits."
The section has added the language underlined below:
Fire-protection rated glazing in fire window assemblies
shall be tested in accordance with and shall meet the acceptance
criteria of NFPA 257 or UL 9.
The total area of the glazing in fire-protection rated
windows assemblies shall not exceed 25% of the area
of a common wall with any room.
In addition to yesterday's approved code changes, several glazing-related
items were disapproved. Among the disapproved proposals was FS90,
another proposal regarding the intersection of the exterior curtainwall
and floor assemblies. Among other things, the change would have
required the materials used to seal the "void" between
the floor and exterior wall carry a fire rating.
Jesse Beitel, representing proponents representing Centria, Trespa
North America and Alcan Composites, explained during the hearing,
"We have rated walls meeting rated floors, that's fine
the biggest problem we have seen is a non-rated wall meeting a rated
floor. How do you address that?" As he pointed out, one side
of the product sealing that intersection will have no fire protection.
"That's what we were trying to clean up."
He added, "I'm not trying to change ASTM E2307, I'm trying
to change how it applies."
Doug Evans, a fire protection engineer with Clark County, Nev.,
asked, "Do I really need to maintain this to the level of the
slab or of the wall? If a non-rated wall fails and that stuff falls
out, why is that unexpected? Do I need to make the wall 2-hour rated
Ultimately, the proposal was disapproved.
Also disapproved was a proposal from SAFTI FIRST that would have
allowed for testing of a 20-minute door assembly, including side
lites and transoms, to NFPA 252 without hose stream when the assembly
is in a half-hour rated corridor or fire partition (FS97).
According to O'Keeffe, "Since a half hour wall tested to ASTM
E119 is not required to be hose stream tested, there is no fire
safety reason to require the door assembly component in that wall
to meet a hose stream test."
"In an assembly that is not required to pass hose stream test
there should be no need for the transom and side lites to pass hose
stream test," concurred Jeff Inks with the Window and Door
O'Keeffe and other proponents of the change pointed to the lack
of data showing instances of failure of 20-minute products.
Zaremba noted, "There isn't going to be any data because this
simply isn't the way it's been done." He added that the issue
had been overwhelmingly voted down during the 2009 cycle.
Inks countered, "There is no data to show that there's a need
to require the hose stream test for these 20-minute assemblies."
He added, "Just because it's in the code doesn't mean it's
justified to be there."
As Hopper pointed out, "This has been a contentious issue
for quite some time."
As the issue was voted down again this year, it may continue to
arise in the future.
HERE to read about the changes to fire-rated glazing marking.
The ICC code change proposal hearings are taking place this week
through May 23 in Dallas. Stay tuned to USGNN.com for further
Need more info and analysis about the issues?
HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.