The American Society of Standards and Technology (ASTM) Committee E05 is responsible for preparing and maintaining fire standards.

An ASTM Subcommittee E05.14 on External Fire Exposures has been established to develop standard test methods to evaluate the performance of building materials when subjected to (simulated) wildfire exposures. One approved method, ASTM E-108, Standards Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings, is under the jurisdiction of this subcommittee.

Several proposed new standards are being developed. These include:

  1. Determining Fire Penetration of Exterior Wall Assemblies Using a Direct Flame Impingement Exposure
  2. Evaluating the Under-Deck Fire Test Response of Deck Structures
  3. Evaluating the Fire Test Response of Deck Structures to Burning Brands
  4. Evaluating the Ability of Vents to Resist Entry of Embers and Flame Impingement
  5. Evaluating Roof Field Vent Response to Wind Blown Flame and Burning Ember Exposure
  6. Evaluating Eave and Soffit Materials

The exterior wall test, and the deck tests, are based on the California Office of the State Fire Marshal SFM tests that were approved at the state level as part of the approval of Chapter 7A by the Building Standards Commission. Those interested in tracking the development of these standards can do so at the ASTM website by clicking ‘Sign up for Standards Tracker’.

ASTM subcommittees maintain other standards that are currently used to evaluate exterior-use buildings materials. These include:

An accepted definition of an ignition resistant material is adopted and used in Chapter 7A. The definition is based on the test standard ASTM E-84 (also UBC 8-1), and utilizes the Steiner Tunnel shown in this photograph. The result of this test is a flame spread rating. The term ‘ignition resistant’ is given to materials that obtain a flame spread rating of 25 or less when subjected to an extended (30 minute) test. Fire-retardant treated material must also be subjected to an accelerated weathering procedure set forth in ASTM D-2898 (UBC 23-4), and meet the same flame spread requirement (< 25) during testing after the exposure. Because the flame spread rating is a relative value, it is unitless.

This is a photograph of a vertical furnace used to evaluate the fire performance of walls, floors and other assemblies, and is used to give them their ‘hour’ rating (e.g., a 1-hour wall, a 2-hr wall). Although this designation has been used by code officials to specify wall construction (siding performance / compliance) in some urban interface areas, it is predominately used to minimize fire spread from floor-to-floor and room-to-room in a single family home, unit-to-unit in multi-family construction, and home-to-home in urban fires.

Chapter 7A doesn’t rely on the fire resistance ratings (e.g., a one-hour wall) for siding compliance, but the [20-minute exposure] fire resistance rating test for doors (ASTM E-2074), referenced in 704A.3.2.2 (doors), and a similar test for windows, would be tested using this kind of vertical furnace.

A 20-minute fire resistance rating for a window or door would be one way for these components to comply with the provisions of Chapter 7A.

Furnace used to evaluate fire performance of walls (1-hour wall, etc.) given in ASTM E-119. If flame penetration doesn’t occur within the specified time period, the wall usually passes [measured temperatures (on unexposed side) must also be below specified level].