Home Innovation Insights

Laboratory testing helps to develop the most resilient, fire-resistant materials

Deanna Williams Seale, PE
September 28, 2023

Building Resilience: Construction Materials Testing to Prevent Wildfire Devastation

Wildfires have become increasingly prevalent and destructive in recent years. As of June 1, 2023, around 18,300 wildfires have impacted over 511,000 acres this year alone. As communities in wildfire-prone areas deal with the aftermath, fire prevention and resilience in construction has never been more crucial. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through adoption and enforcement of rigorous building codes and standards. Home Innovation can help manufacturers meet building codes to enhance resilience. 

Building codes are designed to establish minimum standards for construction to ensure the safety of occupants and protect structures. Laboratory testing is the cornerstone of compliance with these codes. At Home Innovation, we understand the importance of complying with building codes and standards. We work closely with manufacturers to ensure their materials meet and exceed these codes, providing a solid foundation for resilience. 

While we expect building codes to become more stringent in their requirements related to fire resilience, builders and homeowners are also becoming more focused on creating homes that will withstand natural disasters. By choosing materials that have undergone rigorous testing, manufacturers can significantly enhance the resilience of their products and improve community resilience. 

When it comes to fire prevention and resilience, material selection is critical. The choice of construction materials can mean the difference between a structure that withstands wildfire and one that does not. Fire resistance testing is an essential process used to determine how well a material, structure, or product can withstand exposure to fire and maintain its structural integrity and safety. 

In collaboration with HUD, Home Innovation worked to develop resilience guides that will help builders design for natural disasters. Manufacturers can align with many of the practices recommended for fire resilience by developing products like noncombustible fencing, fire-resistant exterior wall coverings, noncombustible roof and floor claddings, and dual-paned windows that include tempered glass.

Laboratory testing for fire resistance evaluates how materials behave when exposed to extreme heat and flames. One of the most commonly used standardized tests, ASTM E84 (also known as the Steiner tunnel test) for surface-burning characteristics of building materials provides critical insights into a material's performance during a fire. By subjecting materials to controlled fire conditions, we can accurately predict their behavior in real-world wildfire scenarios. This testing not only ensures compliance with codes and regulations but also helps manufacturers modify their materials for optimal fire resistance. It's a proactive approach that can make a significant difference to help protect people and help make buildings safer. 

While compliance with building codes is essential, true resilience often goes beyond mere compliance. It involves a commitment to exceeding regulatory requirements and embracing innovative fire-resistant materials and designs. By pushing the boundaries of fire-resistant materials and continually improving their products, manufacturers can contribute to safer, more resilient communities. Home Innovation is dedicated to helping them achieve these goals.

As climate change brings warmer temperatures and drier winters, driving increasingly intense, frequent wildfires, the need for fire prevention and resilience in construction cannot be ignored. Laboratory testing of construction materials ensures compliance with building codes and enables manufacturers to design fire-resistant materials that can withstand the most challenging conditions.

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