Manufacturing Member

  • BASF Corporation
  • Master Wall, Inc.
  • Sto Corp.
  • Dryvit Systems, Inc.
  • Parex USA, Inc.

Associate Member

  • Georgia-Pacific Gypsum
  • National Gypsum Company
  • Wind-lock Corporation
  • Drew Foam Companies, Inc.
  • Poseidon Advanced Materials
  • Atlas EPS
  • Vinyl Corp.
  • ADFORS Saint-Gobain
  • Plastic Components, Inc.
  • RADCO
  • Dow Construction Chemicals
  • Wacker Chemical Corporation
  • Rodenhouse Inc.

EIFS Fire Safety

 

As energy conservation awareness continues to increase, there will also be a continued desire to build walls with high performance insulation systems. This is desirable, and performance should not be sacrificed for fire safety concerns. All assembles must be tested in accordance with current fire testing requirements. When it comes to performance, EIFS is hard to beat. It is a high-performance assembly that features outstanding insulation performance with endless aesthetic options. It has also been successfully tested concerning fire and environmental performance.

Testing

For communities in the United States, Chapter 14 of the International Building Code (IBC) provides guidelines for the use of combustible materials on the exterior side of exterior walls. However, the best codes and standards are only paper unless they are adopted, understood, and enforced fire codes and testing for cladding materials have evolved over the years. EIFS and EIFS with Drainage that utilize foam plastic as the insulation are considered combustible assemblies and therefore, must be tested in accordance with Chapter 26 of the IBC in order to be used on buildings of any height.

All EIMA EIFS manufacturers have passed fire resistance, ignitability, intermediate multi-story, and flame spread tests; meeting the standards set forth with each test. These tests include:

EIFS Fire Safety
  • Fire Resistance (ASTM E 119) – EIFS PASSED, showing no negative effect on the fire resistance of a rated wall assembly for non-load bearing assemblies.
EIFS Fire Safety
  • Ignitability (NFPA 268) – EIFS PASSED; no ignition after 20 minutes of radiant heat exposure, testing to the maximum irradiance value of 12.5 kW/m2 provides the end user to specify the system with no set back limitations.
EIFS Fire Safety
  • Intermediate Multi-Story Fire Test (NFPA 285 (UBC 26-9)) – EIFS PASSED, criteria included resisting the spread of a flame within combustible core/component of panels from one story to the next. In addition, resisting lateral spreading of flames from the origin of the compartment fire to adjacent spaces.
EIFS Fire Safety
  • Surface Burning and Smoke Development (ASTM E 84) – All components are tested individually and have a maximum flame spread rating of 25 and smoke developed index of 450.
Energy Efficient Foam Coalition

EIMA is an Associate Member of the Energy Efficient Foam Coalition (EEFC) of the American Chemistry Council and participates in its policy-making meetings. EEFC’s mission is to promote the benefits of foam insulation. Foam insulation products are critical tools that architects, contractors and building owners can use to meet the stringent energy code requirements of today and tomorrow. The EEFC’s members are in the business of providing energy-efficient foam insulation that satisfies fire safety standards while supporting the health and safety of occupants and workers.

Grenfell Tower Fire, London, England

The tragic events of June 14 at the Grenfell Tower are subject to an ongoing investigation, that might very well result in new fire testing and codes for London. As investigators and other building experts continue to analyze next steps, others have taken advantage of this tragic event by including it as the opening for articles about other materials and systems.

One thing that we do know, is that the building envelope used on the Grenfell Tower was not EIFS. Well exterior insulation was a component, the building system was a far cry from an exterior insulation and finish system. In an EIF System, the EPS foam is protected from direct flame impingement by the lamina coating. This reduces the potential for open flaming of the EPS and assists in providing the EIF System with its excellent performance.

As some authors and individuals use this tragic event as an avenue to attack other building materials, we believe it’s best to continue researching and using those that have passed the most stringent fire tests.

Monte Carlo Hotel Fire, Las Vegas, NV

EIMA has faced several questions related to the fire safety of EIFS in the wake of an exterior fire that occurred at the Monte Carlo hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 25, 2008. The investigation into the Monte Carlo fire concluded that the building’s decorative materials, not EIFS, were the primary mode of lateral flame propagation. The fire began from welding that occurred along the roof’s wall resulting in a lateral progression of flame over the decorative materials. The downward spreading was a result of melting material falling to horizontal ledges on the 29th floor, which included a decorative band with expanded polystyrene (EPS) and a non-EIFS coating. While the EIF system was eventually involved, the official findings concluded that neither the decorative materials nor the EIF system met the required code and the manufacturers application instructions. According to the report completed by the Clark County Department of Development Services and Hughes Associates, it was concluded that the EIFS in the area of the fire had non-complying lamina thickness of approximately 28-69% less than recommended by EIFS manufacturer. EIFS is a system and works as such. Like any material, building to code is a key piece of the future health and safety of the structure.

Additional notes from the file report:

  1. The EIFS had additional decorative components applied to it. These were large shapes that contained significant thicknesses of EPS and these components were not covered with EIFS lamina. The analysis concluded that they did not meet the requirements of the 1991 UBC (code that was in affect at time of construction).
  2. The primary contributor to the progression of the fire was the combination of materials in the decorative band at the top of the wall, the decorative band at the top of the 32nd floor (EPS with a polyurethane resin coating) and the undetermined materials in the medallions.
  3. Flaming droplets and burning pieces of EPS and/or polyurethane (coating that was used over decorative shape) caused ignition of the large decorative band at the 29th floor. This decorative band was composed of EPS and had a non-EIFS coating.
  4. EIFS in the flat portion of the parapet wall was involved in the fire but was not the primary contributor to the lateral propagation of the fire, even though it appears to have a non-complying thickness of lamina. It did burn in the immediate area of fire exposure, as would be expected based on testing, but did not significantly propagate beyond the area of fire exposure caused by the burning of the decorative band at the top of the wall, the decorative band at the top of the 32nd floor and the medallions. As the fire progressed along these materials, it continued to involve the EIFS, but the EIFS was not the primary cause of the continued progression of the fire.
Closing:

The United States is doing a good job in promoting and protecting fire safety initiatives, but individuals should remain mindful of potential changes to codes and standards. While some recent high-profile fires in other countries would not meet the stringent fire testing our building codes have in place – EIFS and others do.

Resources:

The Monte Carlo Exterior Façade Fire By Jesse J. Beitel, Hughes Associates, Inc. (Jensen Hughes) and Douglas H. Evans, P.E., FSFPE
https://www.sfpe.org/page/2011_Q4_2

Great Fire of London by Joseph Lstiburek
https://buildingscience.com/documents/building-science-insights/bsi-098-great-fire-london

Energy Efficient Foam Coalition Website
https://eefc.americanchemistry.com/default.aspx

Manufacturing Member

  • Master Wall, Inc.
  • Sto Corp.
  • Dryvit Systems, Inc.
  • BASF Corporation
  • Parex USA, Inc.

Associate Member

  • ADFORS Saint-Gobain
  • National Gypsum Company
  • Atlas EPS
  • Poseidon Advanced Materials
  • Wind-lock Corporation
  • RADCO
  • Dow Construction Chemicals
  • Vinyl Corp.
  • Wacker Chemical Corporation
  • Georgia-Pacific Gypsum
  • Plastic Components, Inc.
  • Rodenhouse Inc.
  • Drew Foam Companies, Inc.
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