Volume 1, Number 1
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Misrepresented Construction Products
Combustible “Non-Combustible” Products?
It seems we have to be extra careful about products
we use today. With the advent of things like “International Free Trade” we find a plethora of products streaming into the
We have to realize that many of the countries throughout the world may consent to the use of processes or materials that we do not permit in this country. We also have to realize that some of the companies shipping items into our country may not be as forthright in providing true information to the jurisdictions. We must rely upon the information provided to allow for reasonable review and approval processes.
We are inundated in the news with tainted toys and medication. The problem is that governmental oversight of products from some countries is not very strong.
As the government struggles, or quite frankly seems not to address the issues of medical products, food, toys, etc., we need to ask ourselves, what about construction products?
When you pick up a box of floor tile at the local home supply house you expect it to comply with
All sorts of other materials are making their way into the system and are leading to a decreased level of safety than what we want to see in our structures. In this newsletter I want to discuss several products coming into our country that are being referred to by the suppliers as “non-combustible products” in accordance with ASTM E136.
In recent years we have seen a product known as CBPB (Cement Based Particle Board). CBPB is primarily an import product. This product is being sold under various names one of which is “Veroc”. I will include some documents within this newsletter that are provided by companies representing this product. One would think that anything with a cement component would have a degree of fire resistive capability that would provide for its use in fire rated assembly.
Another product that has been making inroads into the construction
industry within the
In fact, these products are being sold in numerous places around the country with the stated goal of fire protection in mind. In various areas the Authority Having Jurisdictions (AHJ) provides approval for products and assemblies based on test data from laboratories indicating the compliance of this product with requirements to be considered fire resistive. But, in fact, these products do not comply.
What tests are required? For decades the code has required that to be classified as a noncombustible product the material must comply with ASTM E136 as stated in section 6002 of the 1976 Uniform Building Code. In the 2003 & 2006 International Building Code, the same testing requirement is referenced which reads as follows: “703.4.1 Elementary materials. Materials required to be noncombustible shall be tested in accordance with ASTM E 136.”
While the code remains unchanged, it is always important to refer to the current standard. Over the years, issues regarding standards may arise and the standard itself may change in some degree to address those issues. By adopting the codes with reference to the standard a change in standards can help to keep certain things current even though the jurisdiction may be operating under an older version of the code. Insuring the appropriate fire resistance for products used in construction saves lives. Updated fire resistive materials requirements have to be available to insure modern buildings are safe for the inhabitants. This is the prime directive for code officials.
Problems with CBPB
CBPB is an acronym for Cement Based Particle Board. This is a lower priced product
that, if it truly met the standard, would be an economical product to achieve building safety. Documents have been provided to jurisdictions
how did they achieve approval for use of their products as noncombustible? In May of 2004, US Architectural Products Incorporated
obtained the Services of V-Tech Laboratories in
In addition the report contains the following statement: “Modification: the test was stopped after ten minutes.” Interestingly ASTM E 136 does not provide for modification of the test requirements. However, based on testing which was widely spread throughout the industry, the product has received approval as non-combustible.
One of the states where approval was given was
In answer to a January petition, the Florida Building Commission issued a declaratory statement on July 16, 2007, stating that, “the duration of the ASTM E 136 could not be reduced to ten minutes. Therefore, CBPB is considered a combustible product until it can pass an unmodified ASTM E 136-99e1 test.”
While the matter was under consideration by the Florida Building Commission, one of the suppliers of CBPB looked
into the allegations that the product approval was based on improper information. Allied Building Products had testing completed
at NGC testing services in
Allied acted appropriately in sending out a customer notification
of the issue, but did they understand what had taken place up to this point. Mr. Bookspan, National Viroc Product Representative for
the Allied Building Products Company, seemed confused that previous testing done by the manufacturer in Europe and by Allied products
Until the question arose with regard to the testing criteria, the modification of the testing skewed the results so that all tests passed. When un-modified tests were run all failed to allow for this product to be classified as non-combustible.
Below is the customer notification letter from Allied Building Products in its entirety.
Allied Building Products Corp.
51 WINTER PL. ? EAST RUTHERFORD ? NEW
PHONE (201-531-9680) FAX (201-933-6827)
TOLL FREE 888-OK-VIROC (658-4762)
June 6, 2007
Dear Valued Customer:
As you know,
we have marketed Viroc as non-combustible, based not only on tests run by the manufacturer in Europe, but also based on three (3)
ASTM E-136 tests Allied has run in the United States at two different independent labs, most recently in January of 2007. Because
of recent suggestions from competitors that Viroc should not be labeled “non-combustible”, we ran yet another ASTM E-136 test at NGC
testing services laboratory in
We have contacted the manufacturer and are awaiting an explanation of why the product suddenly failed the non-combustibility test. We will keep you apprised of their explanation.
Viroc, of course, may continue to be marketed as fire resistant, for which it has received a U.L. certification, but until the manufacturer determines the cause of this recent setback and rectifies the problem, we must advise you that we are refraining from marketing it as non-combustible, hopefully for a temporary basis only.
Very truly yours,
Alan B. Bookspan
National Viroc Product Manager
Allied Building Products Corp.
It should be clearly noted that although the approval was
the City of
It should be clearly noted that in accordance with ASTM E 136 this product cannot be classified as non-combustible and therefore is not allowed for use within structures and assemblies where such non-combustible products are required.
The product approval for CBPB as a non-combustible in
It is true that we should be able to count on information submitted to us to be accurate and for testing to be performed in exacting compliance with the standards. Sadly enough, as building professionals, it is incumbent upon us to read carefully all information submitted to us. We must understand the provisions of the standards and be able to see the nuances in written documents in order to insure that we fulfill our primary purpose of code compliance and building safety within our jurisdictions.
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