How is the reaction to fire on ships evaluated?

The most common when it talks about reaction to fire is that it refers in most cases to constructive applications in buildings and industrial environments. But there are also requirements for the transport. In the post that I present you today I will explain how to apply the reaction to fire on ships. The first thing we need to know is that the tests are much more difficult to pass because in the ships we find a special situation that implies that in case of fire, the ship is probably far from the mainland and an fire spread will be a great threat to people, even greater than in buildings. This peculiarity causes the tests to be more difficult to pass.

Where do you have to go?
To know the necessary tests, in Spain we should not go to the CTE DB SI or the RSCIEI, since none of these regulations deals with ships. We will have to use IMO (International Maritime Organization) regulation. For reaction to fire issues, it will be necessary to follow the “International code for application of fire test procedures”, 2010 (2010 FTP Code). This Code has its origin in Resolution MSC 307 (88).

Tests required by IMO.
Information on reaction to fire test methods is described in Annex 1 of the FTP Code. Each part refers to a test method that in a summarized way I show you. Keep in mind that not all parties refer to reaction to fire.

Part 1. Non-combustibility test.
In order to carry out this test, it uses the test methodology indicated in ISO 1182 and which is also used in the Euroclasses to determine the non-combustibility of the materials and products (A1 and A2). The materials and products will be classified as incombustible if:

  • Increase in the temperature of the furnace and specimen surface thermocouple should not exceed 30ºC.
  • Sustained flames on the specimen must not exceed 10 s.
  • The mass loss must not exceed 50% of the initial mass of the specimen.
  • Increase in the temperature of the furnace and specimen surface thermocouple should not exceed 30ºC.
  • Sustained flames on the specimen must not exceed 10 s.
  • The mass loss must not exceed 50% of the initial mass of the specimen.

Part 2. Smoke and toxicity test.
This test is used to evaluate the generation of smoke released as well as the toxic products at elevated temperatures. Concerning to the smokes, the test according to ISO 5659-2 is used and for the measurement of the gases released the Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) is used. The results that the products must reach will be the following:
For the evaluation of smokes:

  • Materials used as the surface of bulkheads, linings or ceilings, the average of the maximum specific optical density of smoke shall not exceed 200.
  • Materials used as primary deck coverings, the average of the maximum specific optical density of smoke shall not exceed 400.
  • Materials used as floor coverings, the average of the maximum specific optical density of smoke shall not exceed 500.
  • Plastic pipes, the average of the maximum specific optical density of smoke shall not exceed 400.

For the evaluation of toxicity, the following gas concentrations should not be exceeded:

  • CO = 1450 ppm
  • HCl = 600 ppm
  • HF = 600 ppm
  • NOx = 350 ppm
  • HBr = 600 ppm
  • HCN = 140 ppm
  • SO2 = 120 ppm (200 ppm for floor coverings)

Part 5. Test for surface flammability (test for surface materials and primary deck coverings).
This test is used to know the flame spread and the flammability of the products that are going to be installed superficially or as primary coverings of cover and is based on ISO 5658-2. In addition, the particle fall is evaluated.
Where:

  • CFE: Critical flux at extinguishment.
  • Qsb: Heat for sustained burning
  • Qt: Total heat release
  • Qp: Peak heat release rate

Part 7. Test for vertically supported textiles and films
This part applies to suspended elements such as curtains and other textile elements. For a product or material to be considered suitable for use as curtains, draperies, or free-hanging fabric product for use in rooms containing furniture and furnishings, it must not present any of the following conditions during the test.

  • An after-flame time greater than 5 s for any of the 10 or more specimens tested with a surface application of the pilot flame.
  • Burn through to any edge of any of the 10 or more specimens tested with a surface application of the pilot flame.
  • Ignition of cotton wool below the specimen in any of the 10 or more specimens tested.
  • An average char length in excess of 150 mm
  • The occurrence of a surface flash propagating more than 100 mm from the point of ignition with or without charring of the base fabric

Part 8. Test for upholstered furniture
The upholstered furniture must also be taken into account and therefore will be subjected to a test. This test is very similar to that required by the Spanish regulation (CTE DB SI) for seats and upholstered fixed seats according to the EN 1021-1 and EN 1021-2 standards. The aim of the evaluation will be to know the properties of ignition and propagation of the flame. The evaluation can be done using a cigarette and a flame as a source of ignition. For both types of test methods, progressive smouldering or flaming will be observed and quantified and if there were no evidence of these phenomena, a negative result will be considered.

Part 9. Test for bedding components
Bed items such as blankets, quilts, bedspreads, pillows, etc. are evaluated in the IMO regulations but for comparative purposes not being valid for other considerations. For this test, a cigarette or a flame is used, which is placed on top of the bedding components to try to simulate the exposure of these elements to the indicated heat sources. Bedware will be classified as not immediately flammable if it does not experience progressive smouldering ignition or ignition with flames. Progressive smouldering ignition for the purposes of this standard is considered if:

  • Any test specimen that produces smoke, heat or glowing after a period of 1 h following the application of the ignition source.
  • Any test specimen that displays escalating combustion behaviour so that it is unsafe to continue the test.
  • Any test specimen that smoulders until it is consumed within the duration of the test.
  • Any test specimen that smoulders to the extremities of the specimen.
  • Any test specimen that, on final examination, shows evidence of smouldering other than discoloration more than 25 mm in any horizontal direction.

On the other hand, ignition with flame is considered when:
Mattresses

  • Occurrence of any flames initiated by a smouldering ignition source;
  • Any test specimen that continues to flame for more than 150 s after removal of the igniting flame.
  • Any test specimen that displays escalating combustion behaviour, so that it is unsafe to continue the test and requires forcible extinction.
  • Any test specimen that burns until more than 66% consumed within 150 s after removal of the igniting flame.
  • Any test specimen that burns to the extremities of the specimen.

Blankets, quilts, pillows and thin, light mattresses

  • Occurrence of any flames initiated by a smouldering ignition source.
  • Any test specimen that continues to flame for more than 150 s after removal of the igniting flame.
  • Any test specimen that displays escalating combustion behaviour, so that it is unsafe to continue the test.
  • Any test specimen that burns until more than 66% consumed within 150 s after removal of the igniting flame.
  • Any test specimen that burns to either side of the specimen within the duration of the test.

Part 10. Test for fire-restricting materials for high-speed craft
This test must be complied with when the materials used in high-speed craft are required to be fire-restricting. The methodology used will be that indicated in ISO 9705. For the surface materials on bulkheads, walls and ceilings linings, the following conditions must be met:

  • The time average of heat release rate (HRR) excluding the HRR from the ignition source does not exceed 100 kW.
  • The maximum HRR excluding the HRR from the ignition source does not exceed 500 kW averaged over any 30 s period of time during the test.
  • The time average of the smoke production rate does not exceed 1.4 m2/s.
  • The maximum value of the smoke production rate does not exceed 8.3 m2/s over any period of 60 s during the test.
  • Flame spread shall not reach any further down the walls of the test room than 0.5 m from the floor excluding the area which is within 1.2 m from the corner where the ignition source is located; and
  • No flaming drops or debris of the test specimen may reach the floor of the test room outside the area which is within 1.2 m from the corner where the ignition source is located.

Finally, it is interesting to know that it is not always necessary to test a product or material. In the annex 2 of the FTP Code, the conditions are shown by which a material or product can be installed without the need for testing and / or approval.

Bibliography

International Code for application of fire test procedures 2010 (2010 FTP Code).

Antonio Galán Penalva

Fire Safety Consultant

Diseño de Instalaciones de Protección contra Incendios (PCI)