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Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
22nd Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials 2011 | Year: 2011

The most important code requirements on reaction-to-fire safety for building products involve interior finish testing. In terms of floor finish, this testing has, and continues to be, done principally by means of the flooring radiant panel, in both continents. In terms of wall and ceiling interior finish, traditionally this testing was conducted in the US with the Steiner tunnel fire test. However, increasingly regulatory and research testing is conducted to assess heat and smoke release rate with room-corner tests. In both Steiner tunnel testing and room-corner testing, significant differences in fire test results can be obtained by variations in specimen preparation techniques and in mounting methods. In the European Union, the key test for interior finish is the SBI (Single Burning Item). This paper will present an update and indicate areas where added work is still needed. © (2011) by BCC Research All rights reserved.


Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
24th Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials 2013 | Year: 2013

In recent years flame retardants have been subjected to a well-organized and persistent public attack in the media. A key area of unfounded criticism is the assertion that flame retardants do not have a significant effect on fire safety. This work will examine the relevant published scientific data on the subject to make an unbiased and technically valid determination of the effectiveness of flame retardants in improving fire safety. The data clearly shows that flame retardants are very effective in a variety of areas, including many consumer products (such as upholstered furniture, mattresses and appliances) and building products (such as wall and ceiling linings, insulation and electric cables). In some cases, the use of flame retardants is enough to ensure that ignition does not occur. However, when the proper level of flame retardants is used (to meet an adequate level of fire performance), even if ignition occurs, fire hazard is significantly lowered by decreasing heat release, flame spread and smoke release and, most importantly, time available for escape. Public safety requires that flame retardants remain available as an effective tool for increasing fire safety. © (2013) by BCC Research. All rights reserved.


Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
Fire and Materials 2015 - 14th International Conference and Exhibition, Proceedings | Year: 2015

Heat release rate is the key property in fires. This survey investigates the effect of flame retardants on the heat released by key polymers. The polymeric materials were chosen based on two criteria: that they be used extensively in key applications (building/construction, furniture/furnishings, transportation or electrical/electronics) and that their intrinsic fire performance not be good enough for adequate fire safety. The following materials were chosen (in alphabetical order). ABS and/or other styrenics, including HIPS Cellulose or cotton fabrics Engineering thermoplastics (including polycarbonate) Epoxy resins EVA and/or other polyolefin blends and/or copolymers Flexible PVC LDPE Nylon and/or other polyamides Polyesters (including also PET fabrics) Polycarbonate Polypropylene Polystyrene Polyurethane (foam and thermoplastic polyurethane) Rigid PVC Wood (different species, if possible) A pair of publications in the 2014 Fire and Materials journal has gone into extensive detail on this subject and the present publication was designed to summarize the findings. Most of the studies reviewed here (well over 100) were conducted primarily in the initial 21st century years, and are, undoubtedly, of uneven quality. Moreover, many of the studies are also academic and not based on actual commercial products. Therefore the survey of new date should be used in combination with earlier studies, including particularly a seminal 1988 NBS/NIST study that focused on 5 materials made into simulated products. Some important observations can be developed: (1) the fact that a material has been "flame retarded" simply means that some amount of "flame retardants" has been added: such a system does not necessarily have proper fire performance, (2) the designation of a material as "flame retardant" (or even, more accurately, as "flame retarded") is a meaningless and misleading designation as it is not related to actual fire performance, (3) improvements in fire performance are typically intended to meet certain fire safety requirements and (3) flame retardants (individually or in combination) that can be efficient for a particular polymer can be useless for other materials. In some systems improvements in heat release rate of over an order of magnitude can be found. The key conclusion to be drawn from the work is that flame retardants will decrease heat release rates of polymers. However, it is essential that flame retardant systems be used for the correct application and in the proper proportions. Thus, the proper use of flame retardants will lead to lower fire hazard. © 2015 Interscience Communications Limited.


Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
ASTM Special Technical Publication | Year: 2010

Many consumer products exhibit very poor fire performance (based on general principles of fire hazard), particularly when fire safety requirements for such products do not exist. They include television sets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, personal automobiles, garbage cans, and playground structures for children. This work indicates that the best way to ensure a consumer product exhibits fire performance associated with appropriately low fire hazard is to conduct full-scale heat release tests where all the interactions between the various components can be brought out. The most critical property to be measured is the heat release in those tests. However, full-scale heat release tests are unlikely to be regulatory in nature for most products. In that case, small heat release tests, such as the cone calorimeter, can be used to provide the proper predictability. The aircraft industry has long been using data from another small-scale heat release test (the Ohio State University calorimeter) for regulation, with great success. In this article, several series of full scale heat release tests will be presented. Such tests were conducted on: (a) mattresses (both residential and institutional), (b) residential upholstered furniture, (c) wall coverings, (d) typical plastic garbage cans, (e) Christmas trees, and (e) a children's playground structure. In the article there will also be a discussion of some small-scale heat release tests. All the full-scale heat release fire tests on mattresses, upholstered furniture, wall coverings, and playground structure were conducted indoors, usually in standard rooms (such as the ASTM room), and heat release (by oxygen consumption calorimetry) as well as smoke release was measured, while also making various other measurements and visual observations. The garbage can test was conducted in the same standard room, but only heat release was measured. The small-scale tests were conducted using standard fire test equipment such as the cone calorimeter. Tests conducted by NIST on mattresses, a passenger minivan and a garbage can were conducted indoors under a hood. The other full scale tests on passenger road vehicles were conducted outdoors. The results indicate that regulations permit the use of some consumer products in present use even though they are unsafe and that improved fire safety alternatives exist. Recommendations are presented. Reference is also made to predictive work. Copyright © 2009 by ASTM International.


Earl T.,GBH International
23rd Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials 2012 | Year: 2012

In 2006, the US Consumer Products Safety Commission issued 16 CFR Part 1633, Standard for the Flammability (Open Flame) of Mattress Sets. The effort to establish a federal regulation for the fire performance of mattresses sold in the US for residential use was surprisingly quick, bypassing the code process and going straight into federal regulation. This paper will describe the entire chain of events leading up to the issuance of this standard and compare it to stalled efforts to establish a flammability standard or requirement for upholstered furniture. © (2012) by BCC Research All rights reserved.


Earl T.,GBH International
25th Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials | Year: 2014

Green construction is a major part of the global movement towards sustainability and environmental stewardship. A number of voluntary labels and guidelines have been developed, and continue to be developed and revised, to designate certain types of construction as more or less desirable from a "green" point of view. Many of these guidelines have the desirable effects of minimizing energy waste and increasing efficiencies. Unfortunately, such guidelines do not generally take into account fire safety, and some of them may unintentionally increase fire hazard and fire risk. In particular, some of the recommendations being made focus on material composition. A common focus of this type of recommendations is to advocate for the elimination of the use of flame retardants, often based on prejudicial information regarding their effects. Often, the organizations advocating for green construction do not have the expertise to fully appreciate how the changes to methods of building construction can impact fire safety. This work will discuss the impact which these guidelines are likely to have on fire safety, and in particular the use of flame retardants.


Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
25th Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials | Year: 2014

This survey describes a series of ignition sources potentially applicable to assessing fire-test-response characteristics resulting from the ignition of electrical and electronic insulation materials or of electrical or electronic products containing such materials. This survey describes both flaming and non-flaming ignition sources, since the outcome of a non-flaming ignition can be the eventual flaming ignition of these materials or products. Non-flaming ignition sources include smoldering cigarettes, glow wires, hot wires and radiant heat sources. Radiant heat sources are often accompanied by a supplementary igniter, which can be a pilot flame. Flaming ignition sources include both premixed flames and diffusion flames. The overall characteristics of ignition sources being discussed include: 1. The intensity of the ignition source. This is a measure of the thermal insult onto the test specimen resulting from the combined conduction, convection and radiation effects caused by the ignition source. 2. The location of the impingement of the ignition source on the test specimen. 3. The duration of exposure of the test specimen and whether it is continuous or intermittent. 4. The orientation of the test specimen in relation to the ignition source. 5. The ventilation conditions in the vicinity of the ignition source and exposed surface of the test specimen. A variety of standard test methods, specifications and regulations have been issued (by organizations including ASTM, NFPA, ISO, IEC, IEEE, UL and FAA) that contain ignition sources used for electrical and electronic insulation materials and the products in which they are used. This survey describes such ignition sources and includes information on the standard method in which they were first described.


This is part of a project considering whether flame retardants affect polymer heat release, a critical issue to assess whether adding flame retardants decreases fire hazard. The work investigated the following. (1) Fire properties affecting fire hazard, confirming that heat release rate is the key fire property most strongly influencing fire hazard. (2) Ways to assess heat release and whether full-scale fire heat release rate can be predicted from small-scale test results, confirming that cone calorimeter and Ohio State University data are adequate to predict full-scale heat release. (3) Analysis of key 1988 NBS/NIST study comparing the fire hazard of flame retarded products versus non-flame retarded products for the same application. This confirmed that the study demonstrated that flame retardants lower fire hazard and that the levels of additives in the flame retarded products used were not excessive. (4) Review of studies investigating effects of flame retardants on various polymeric systems. The overall conclusion is that flame retardants does indeed improve fire safety (when used appropriately) primarily because they decrease heat release. Part 2 of the project (separately) considers the key polymers that need to be potentially flame retarded and reviews recent studies on effects of flame retardants on heat released by such polymers. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
Fire and Materials | Year: 2015

This work is the second of two parts that considered the following issue: do flame retardants affect heat release of polymers? The reason for investigating the issue is because it is important to assess whether the addition of flame retardants positively decreases fire hazard. This part of the work considered the two following issues. (1) Analysis of the individual polymeric materials that need to be studied. (2) Analysis of the data found on heat release (particularly peak heat release rate), ignitability (if available), and other thermal properties (as available) of polymers in small-scale test data in recent years. The effects are being presented in terms of the percentage of improvement. The work demonstrated that, almost without exception, when adequately compounded systems were developed, the peak heat release rate of the flame retarded system was lower than that of the non-flame retarded system. The overall conclusion of the two-part study was that flame retardants does indeed improve fire safety (when used appropriately) and that a key reason for the beneficial effect of flame retardants is that they decrease heat release. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
26th Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials, Flame 2015 | Year: 2015

Fire safety requirements for flaming ignition of upholstered furniture or its components have existed in the US (California) since 1975 (CA TB 117) and in the UK since 1988 (BS 5852); they have not changed significantly until recently. In 2013 the state of California eliminated upholstered furniture open flame ignition requirements and, in 2014, the UK started a process that involved questioning their requirements. These changes in requirements are likely to decrease fire safety and increase fire losses, since upholstered furniture fires cause a large fraction of fire fatalities, disproportionate to their fraction of overall fire incidents. Studies have long shown that making furniture in which all components fully comply with BS 5852 (typically crib 5) will result in excellent fire safety and no transition to flashover. Work has also shown that simply using polyurethane foam that meets the traditional CA TB 117 flaming test would not prevent flashover once the furniture has fully ignited. Recent studies of the effects of fires from single, small and large, upholstered furniture items have shown, once again, how rapidly a small fire can lead to flashover in a room. In particular, an example will be shown how a furniture fire can cause an entire large house to burn to the ground rapidly. It has also become clear that simply adding enough flame retardants to the padding (typically polyurethane foam) will have a significant effect on time to flashover (or even on whether the item actually ignites) and that adding enough flame retardants to both padding and fabric can result in the upholstered furniture item not even reaching flashover. Moreover, appropriately adding flame retardants to plastics has been shown to decrease heat release, the key fire hazard property. This paper shows the critical nature of fire safety requirements for flaming ignition of upholstered furniture and puts all aspects discussed above into perspective.

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