Relevant international standards
The main international standards are “BS” (British Standard), the US standards “ASTM” or “UL” and the more recent EU standards “EN”. Also worthy of note are the Russian standards “GOST”, plus there are many local standards. The standards in question are always considered the minimum requirement, meaning that every country that uses these standards may have other requirements. Moreover, the variations between some aspects of different standard systems lead to slight differences in the features or properties of products, thus making it impossible to compare products tested under different systems.
Even if the main standards used globally are now applied in most of the countries around the world, some nations still apply their own directives or implement reference standards with extended specifications that make them equivalent to own directives.
It is compulsory for passive fire-protection products to be tested according to the relevant standards at laboratories accredited or authorised to perform this type of analysis.
The accreditation circuit functions at international level and each nation has its own accreditation body which is linked to the others worldwide.
Accreditation is a service performed in the public interest to enable anyone needing to use overseas suppliers to trust, down to the last link in the production and supply chain, the quality and safety of products and services on offer in an ever more globalised market.
Accreditation guarantees that test, inspection and certification reports on systems, products and personnel are issued in accordance with the most stringent international requirements for compliance assessment and that there is rigorous surveillance of the behaviour of the operators involved, both laboratories and certification bodies.
A fire curve, better defined as a temperature/time curve, classifies a type of standardised fire, establishing how long it takes the temperature to rise by a stated parameter. These temperature/time curves have been established to simulate different types of fires and they are used to guarantee that tests are repeatable. The most commonly used curves are ISO 834 (adopted for almost all the standards in building and civil engineering), the outdoor curve (that simulates a fire in an outdoor environment), the slow heating curve (simulating a hidden fire) and the hydrocarbon curve (simulating a fire in an oil refinery or other situations in which very high temperatures are reached).
These curves are highly theoretical because they simulate fires that are never extinguished while, in the real world, a fire has an ignition/trigger phase, a maximum propagation phase and an extinguishing phase. It is possible for professionals in this sector to calculate the curves for real fires and thus modify the performance requirements.
Professionals working in this branch of engineering are able to match product test results with real conditions of use. They calculate how the fire actually develops, taking into account such variables that contribute to this as fire-load, building architecture, ventilation, active protective system, etc. Such professionals may work out the dimensions of the protective coating on the basis of the effective performance it will have to deliver. This type of assessment makes it possible to optimise costs while guaranteeing compliance with the regulations. At Amonn we offer our services as a qualified partner in this sector for professionals wishing to make use of this assessment methodology, known as performance-based assessment.