What you need to know about entrance matting fire performance

Published Jul 12, 2017


The shock of London’s Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017 has led architectural product suppliers around the world to look closely at the fire performance of their products. Advance Flooring Systems discuss what specifiers need to check for when reviewing entrance matting options to make sure they comply with our Building Code and testing standards.

Whether it’s about fire performance, durability, green-washing or recycled content, specifiers and building owners must do their due diligence on product claims. Beyond the marketing literature lies detailed product documentation that must meet the requirements of the New Zealand Building Code (NZBC). In the instance of entrance matting, specifiers need to check whether the fire test certificate provided by the entrance matting supplier meets the NZBC and the ISO 9239-1:2010 test or not. And whether the system specified matches the name on the fire certificate.

It is well known that materials behave differently depending on the substrate, which is why the ISO 9239-1:2010 test states that ‘[r]esults obtained by this method reflect the performance of the flooring, including any substrate if used.’ Also, ‘[m]odifications of the backing, bonding to a substrate, underlay or other changes of the flooring may affect test results’.

There can be a marked difference between tests done on sheet carpet insert material alone and tests on the carpet insert fixed into its substrate (or system). In our experience, results vary by as much as 60%. This can be due to a combination of factors, such as more oxygen in and around the carpet insert strips (compared with sheet material), differences in adhesives, and any effect of the mat componentry. Variations in matting tests can be likened to the different performances shown by other building products, such as wall vinyl where fire performance changes depending on the substrate to which the vinyl is adhered.

Our Architectural Series entrance matting systems have been tested as a complete system. Rather than take single elements to the testing lab, we take the complete matting system – as it would be installed in a real building. This gives us the certification we need to ensure it complies with the NZBC (C1-C6 Protection from Fire) and ISO 9239-1:2010.

The NZBC dictates what must be tested and the standard to which it should be tested. Excluding non-sprinkled buildings for detention or care, C/VM2, Verification Method: Framework for Fire Safety Design (NZBC C1–C6 Protection from Fire) requires floor surfaces in exitways to achieve a minimum of 2.2 kW/m2.

If specifiers, building owners, and councils are not requesting accurate documentation for a product so they can verify it meets the Building Code, then they put themselves and others at risk should there be human injury through non-compliant products.

Image: ISO 9239-1:2010, Reaction to fire tests for floorings — Part 1: Determination of the burning behaviour using a radiant heat source states: ‘This method is applicable to all types of flooring. e.g. textile carpet, cork, wood, rubber and plastics coverings as well as coatings. Results obtained by this method reflect the performance of the flooring, including any substrate if used. Modifications of the backing, bonding to a substrate, underlay or other changes of the flooring may affect test results.’

NZBC_page_58

Image: The fire performance for architectural products is prescribed in the New Zealand Building Code, Clauses C1–C6 Protection from Fire. On page 58 of C/VM2 it states that floor surface materials in building exitways (which include many entranceways) must have a minimum critical radiant flux of 2.2 kW/m2 and 4.5 kW/m2 for non-sprinkler protected ’care‘ and ’detention‘ buildings.

Things to check when specifying an entrance matting system

Ask for a copy of the independent fire certificate and check that the entrance matting system specified (the whole matting solution – carpet and substrate) matches the name on the fire certificate.

Make sure the fire certificate confirms that the matting system meets the minimum fire performance standards of the New Zealand Building Code.

And note that an ‘entranceway’ may also be an ‘exitway’ under this definition.

References

C/VM2, Verification Method: Framework for Fire Safety Design, For New Zealand Building Code Clauses C1–C6 Protection from Fire.

ISO 9239-1:2010, Reaction to fire tests for floorings — Part 1: Determination of the burning behaviour using a radiant heat source.