ASTM E-84 measures the flame spread and smoke index, which are considered the surface burning characteristics of a material. Depending on the numbers, materials can have classifications of Class A, B, or C according to NFPA , ANSI/NFPA No. 101, "life Safety Code" , 2006 Edition, or IBC (International Building Code), 2006 Edition, Chapter 8, Interior Finishes, Section 803, if they pass any level of this standard. The test is conducted in a fire tunnel using a 22" x 24' sample of the material. The ignition source is 7 seconds in duration, total test is 10 minutes. The flame front cannot exceed 24" during the test. Results are expressed as Flame Spread Index, and Smoke Developed Value. Following are the criteria for each level of this test, regardless of whether NFPA or IBC.
For products that pass these criteria, click here
Class A, Flame Spread 1-25, Smoke Developed Less than or equal to 450
Class B, Flame Spread 26-75, Smoke Developed Less than or equal to 450
Class C, Flame Spread 76-200, Smoke Developed Less than or equal to 450.
Please note, this test is comparable to UL 723, ANSI/NFPA No 255, and UBC No. 8-1
NFPA 701-04 Test 1 or 2 (the most recent revision of the NFPA 701) measures the mass before test, mass after test, mass loss percentage, the number of seconds of any burning drips, and the after flame of the material in seconds during and after a specified burn period at a specified flame temperature. Once the flame is extinguished the after flame in seconds is measured. 10 samples are tested, 5 in the machine direction, 5 in the cross direction (also known as warp/weft respectively). This test is a Pass/Fail test based on the following criteria. If the material fails any of the following criteria, it fails the test
Mass Loss: 40% Max Average or Average + 3 standard Deviations Max Individual
Drip Burn/Afterflame: 2 seconds Max. Avg.
Being in the Plastic Sheeting business, numerous questions have been raised about the difference between the NFPA 701-04 Test 1 and NFPA 701-04 Test 2 for plastic sheeting passing the proper certifications
to meet the fire safety codes.
We went to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Popagation of Textiles and Films handbook to briefly explain the differences. To quote from their website (http://www.nfpa.org/)
Test Method 1 shall not apply to specimens having an areal density greater than 700 g/m2 (21 oz/yd2).
Test Method 2 (flat specimen configuration) shall be used for fabrics, including multilayered fabrics, films, and plastic blinds, with or without reinforcement or backing, with areal densities greater than 700 g/m2 (21 oz/yd2).
In other words, black fire retardant plastic sheeting in the 4 mil or 8 mil does not have enough density to qualify for this test.
NFPA is an international nonprofit organization that was established in 1896. It's mission is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other harzards by providing in part codes and standards for fire prevention.