ASTM - American Standard of Testing Materials
AWPA - American Wood Preservers’ Association
BOCA - Building Officials and Code Administrators
DFPA - Defense Fire Protection Agency
DOT - Department of Transportation
ICBO - International Conference of Building Officials
MIL SPEC - Military Specification
NFPA - National Fire Prevention Agency
SBCCI -now commonly referred to as SBC, Southern Building Code Congress International
SWRI - Southwest Research Institute
UBC - Uniformed Building Code
UL - Underwriter’s Laboratories
ULC - Underwriter’s Laboratories Canada


Afterglow - The smoldering combustion on a material when the heat source is removed

ASTM E 84 test procedure - In this test a 24 inch by 25 foot specimen is placed on the ledge at the tip of the tunnel and cover is set in place. A double gas burner at the front of the tunnel (sometimes called the ‘Steiner Tunnel’) provides a controlled heat source. The tunnel is calibrated using inorganic reinforced cement board and red oak. The cement board is assigned a flame spread rating and red oak 100. Smoke developed is also measured during this test. The E84 test procedure requires that coating intended for application to combustible surfaces be tested when applied to that specific surface. The one exception being that coating intended for application to any wood surface be tested when applied to Douglas fir. The tunnel test measures surface flammability of the specimen. The evaluation to the performance level of the surface flammability of building materials are: 0-25 (Class A or Class I), 26-75 (Class B or Class II) and 76-200 (Call C or Class III)

Autoignition Temperature- The lowest temperature of a substance at which it will spontaneously ignite in a normal atmosphere without an external source of ignition, such as a flame or spark.

Back Draft - A situation which can occur when a fire is starved of oxygen; consequentially combustion ceases but he fuel gases and smoke remain at high temperature. If oxygen is re-introduced to the fire, e.g. By opening a door to a closed room, combustion can restart often resulting in a explosive effect as the gases heat and expand. Characteristic signs of a back draft situation include yellow or brown smoke, smoke which exits small holes puffs and is often found around the edges of doors and windows, and window which appear brown or black when viewed from the exterior. These darker colors are caused by incomplete combustion.

Building Official - The officer or other designated authority charged with the administration and enforcement of the building code.

Building Code Classification
Type 1 - Fireproof construction - General: Buildings and structures of fire proof construction are those in which the walls, partitions, structural elements, floors, ceilings, and roof, and the exitways are constructed and protected with approved noncombustible materials.
Type 2 - Noncombustible construction - General: Buildings and structures of noncombustible construction are those in which the walls, partitions, structural elements, floors, ceilings, roof, and the exitways are constructed of approved noncombustible materials.
Type 3 - Exterior masonry wall construction - General: Buildings and structures of exterior masonry wall construction are those in which the exterior, fire and party walls are constructed of masonry or other approved noncombustible materials, of the required fireresistance rating and structural properties; and the floors, roof, and interior framing are wholly or partly of wood or of metal of other protected construction.
Type 4 - Frame construction - Frame construction - General: Buildings and structures of frame construction are those in which the exterior wall, bearing walls, partitions, floor and roof construction are constructed wholly or partly of wood stud and joist assemblies with a minimum nominal dimension of two inches, or of other approved combustible materials; with firestopping at all vertical and horizontal draft openings.

Char length
- The vertical distance of the specimen from the top of the test flame to the top of the charred area resulting from spread of flame and afterglow.

Combustible - The process of burning.

Combustible fibers - Includes readily ignitable and free burning fibers such as cotton, sisal, henequen, jute hem, tow, cocoa fiber, oakum, bled waste paper, kapok, hay, straw, Spanish moss, excelsior certain synthetic fibers and other like materials.

Conflagration - an extensive and destructive fire.

Decorative material - All materials such as curtains, draperies, streamers, surface coverings applied over the building finish for decorative, acoustical or other effect, and also cloth, cotton batting, straw, vines, leaves, trees and moss used for decorative effect.

Drip Burn - Any portion or residue of textiles or films which break or drip from the material and continue to flame after they reach the floor.

Fire - the state of burning, in which substances combine chemically with oxygen from the air and give out bright light, heat and smoke.

Fire Endurance - The period of resistance before failure. A measure of the elapsed time during which a material or assemblage continues to exhibit fire resistance. The ability of a building system to provide a degree of fire containment.

Fire grading of buildings - All buildings and structures are graded in accordance with the degree of fire hazard of their use in terms of hours and fractions of an hour.

Fireproofing - able to withstand fire or great heat. The term implies an absolute or unconditional property. Its use is inappropriate and misleading.

Fire Protection - The provisions of safeguards in construction and of exit facilities; to reduce the fire risk and the conflagration hazard.

Fire Resistance - The property of a material or their assemblies which prevents or retards the passage of excessive heat, hot gases or flames under conditions of use.

Fireresistance rating - The time in hours or fractions thereof that materials or their assemblies will resists fire exposure as determined by fire tests conducted in compliance with recognized standards.

Fire separation wall - A fire resistance rated assembly of materials not having unprotected opening, designed to restrict the spread of fire.

Fire wall - a fire resistance rated wall, having protected opening, which restricts the spread of fire and extends continuously from the foundation to or through the roof.

Fire Resistant coating - A protection from a fire that extends the time that a structure can survive exposure to a fire.

Fire retardant coating - A fluid applied surface covering on a combustible material which delays ignition and reduces flame spread when the covering is exposed to flame impingements; a substance or material applied to a combustible material to decrease its tendency to propagate flame across its surface. Reduces the rate of flame spread across the surface of a combustible material.

Fire Tetrahedron - An addition to the Fire Triangle, it adds the requirement for the presence of the chemical reaction which is the process of fire.

Fire Triangle - A simple model for understanding the ingredients necessary for most fire. The triangle illustrates a fire requires three elements: heat, fuel and and oxygen. The fire is prevented or extinguished by removing any one of them. Without sufficient heat, a fire cannot begin, and it cannot continue. Without fuel, a fire will stop and without sufficient oxygen a fire cannon begin and it cannot continue. In the fire fighting and protection industry the fire triangle has been partially replaced by the Fire Tetrahedron.

Flame - A hot glowing body of ignited gas produced by something on fire.

Flame Front - The leading edge of a flame propagating through a gaseous mixture or across the surface of a solid or liquid.

Flammable - Capable of burning or producing flame at ordinary temperatures or being easily ignited. Subject to easy ignition and rapid flaming combustion.

Flammability - The ability to support combustion.

Flameproofing - able to withstand fire or great heat. The term implies an absolute or unconditional property. Its use is inappropriate and misleading.

Flame spread - The propagation of flame over a surface.

Flame spread rating - The measurement of flame spread on the surface of materials or the assemblies as determined by tests conducted in compliance with recognized standards.

Flame-Resistant - Resistive to charring and decomposition when exposed to flame or high temperatures.

Flame retardant - Chemical treatment utilized to reduce the flammability and tendency toward smoldering.

Flashover - The near simultaneous ignition of all combustible material in an enclosed area. When certain materials are heated they undergo thermal decomposition and release flammable gases. Flashover occurs when the majority of surfaces in a space are heated to the autoignition temperature of the flammable gases.

Flash Point - The lowest temperature as which vapors above a volatile combustible substance ignite in the air when exposed to flame.

FR coating - Fire retardant coating.

Ignition Temperature - The lowest temperature to which a substance must be heated for it to continue burning without an outside source of heat. Some examples are listed below (The ignition temperature is only an approximation because of variables such as moisture content, mass, shape, conductivity and duration of exposure to heat.)

Paper newsprint 446°F
Cotton Batting 446°F
Cotton Sheathing 465°F
Woolen Blanket 401°F
Viscose Rayon 536°F
Wood fiberboard 421°F - 444°F
Cane Fiberboard 465°F

Wood, in general, will ignite if subjected to the following temperatures for the stated periods of time.

Temperature Time
600°F 5 minutes
500°F 10 minutes
425°F 20 minutes
375°F 30 minutes

Intumescent Fire Retardant - when exposed to high heat, swell and foam to form a multilayer insulating barrier between the flame and the substrate.

Kindling Point - The lowest temperature of a substance at which it will spontaneously ignite in a normal atmosphere without an external source of ignition, such as a flame or spark.

Non-Com - non-conforming

Non combustible - not capable of igniting and burning.

Non combustible building material - Building materials that confine a fire or limit the spread of fire.

Pyrolysis - Chemical change brought about by the action of heat

Radiant Panel - A testing apparatus.

Resistance, Thermal - A measure of the ability to retard the flow of heat.

Smoke - A visible suspension of carbon or other particles in the air, emitted from a burning substance.

Smoke Generation - Unburned particles of matter such as tars, resins, and carbon products.

Smolder - Burning slowly with smoke but no flame.