Introduction to ASTM E 119

The IBC, IFC, and NFPA require minimum fire-resistance ratings for various building materials, components, and assemblies. These fire-resistance ratings are based on the data and testing provided by ASTM, according to the procedures outlined in ASTM E 119. These codes point the user, by reference, to ASTM E 119,  Typically this reference is preceded by terminology such as, “...tested in accordance with”.

ASTM E 119 is the guiding document for the Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials. This document provides the fire-test-response criteria and procedures for structural materials used in building construction. The application of the test procedures contained in ASTM E 119 is to “evaluate the duration for which” building construction materials and assemblies can either contain a fire, retain structural integrity or both. The types of assemblies to be tested include, bearing walls and partitions, columns, floors and roofs, beams, and protective membranes. Specific requirements must be met for these building products to produce a successful (passing) result. These requirements are referred to as “conditions of acceptance”. The conditions of acceptance outline what makes a successful test. If these conditions are not met, then the material or assembly being tested will fail.

The fire-resistance of building materials is determined and based on the standard time-temperature curve. In this temperature controlled environment, building materials receive their hourly rating. The standard time-temperature curve looks like this:

The temperature is measured by the use of thermocouples strategically placed across the product or material to be tested. Utilizing the time temperature curve the temperature data produced by the thermocouples are read and recorded every five to ten minutes.

Both sides of the material, exposed and unexposed, are to be monitored by thermocouples. Both, the IBC and the NFPA, have requirements for nonsymmetrical building assemblies and components. Nonsymmetrical assemblies are constructed of different components on each side. Based on the order in which the materials are assembled, a fire will burn differently, or at a different rate, depending on which side the fire is on. The test report for these types of assemblies will indicate the fire-resistance rating for both sides. This is important to note, as some code requirements state that the fire-resistance rating should be based on the shortest test duration.

Building construction materials and assemblies can be subjected to two types of tests, the fire endurance test and the hose stream test. Based on the type of assembly being tested (floor, wall, column, etc.) there may be a requirement for a load to be applied. To successfully pass, the assembly or material must support the load throughout the duration of time that it is exposed to fire.  The hose stream test is conducted to measure the “impact, erosion, and cooling effects” of a hose stream on the heated surface of the test material. The test types and duration required will be based on the conditions of acceptance for the material being tested.

Video of ASTM E 119 test procedure:

Ultimate Guide to Fire Door Inspections [for Facility Managers]

Current codes and standards require that all fire doors be inspected at least annually.  Facility managers and building owners are the responsible party for ensuring that these annual fire door inspections are conducted and documented. These inspections can be performed by a "qualified person" who has understanding and knowledge of fire door components, operations, and maintenance requirements.  Documentation of these inspections should be maintained and made available to the fire code official or other authority when requested.

Though it will not make anyone a "qualified person", this interactive guide will provides an educational overview of fire doors, installations, and inspections. Topics covered include:

  • Basic requirements for fire doors
  • Fire door components and installation
  • Inspection, testing, and maintenance requirements and resources.

Fire Doors for Fire Protection and Life Safety

Introduction to Passive Fire Protection - Gain an understanding of how fire doors interconnect with other passive building construction features to contribute fire protection and life safety.

Fire Doors? Whats the big deal? - A brief discussion of why fire doors are important and the the ratings permitted by the code.

Fire Door Testing, Components, and Installation

Testing Fire Doors - Video demonstrates fire door performance under various circumstances and installation.

Smoke Gasketing and Edge Sealing - A series of articles that discuss when and where smoke gasketing and edge sealing are required.

Proper Fire Door Installation - Video demonstrates techniques for proper fire door installation.

Benefits of Fire Door Commissioning - An introduction to fire system commissioning and the role it can play in ensuring proper fire door installation, operation, and maintenance.

Fire Door Inspections, Testing, and Maintenance

Five Step Fire Door Check - Tips for five items of a fire door that anyone can check to ensure operability. 

How to Conduct NFPA 80 Inspections - Tools and resources for creating and implementing a fire door inspection program.