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Fire Performance of Partition Assemblies



Samuel L. Manzello, Richard G. Gann, S R. Kukuck, Kuldeep R. Prasad, Walter W. Jones


For nearly a century, the cornerstone of fire safety in buildings has been the ability to confine a fire for a time sufficient for people to reach safety and for successful fire suppression activity. To effect this, the partitions in a building (walls, floors, ceilings) are rated for the duration of their resistance to the passage of heat and smoke through them. In the U.S., the standard test method for determining these ratings is ASTM E119 [1], first published in 1918 and updated periodically by ASTM Committee on E5, Fire Standards. The similar international standard is ISO 834 [2], which is maintained by ISO TC92 SC2, Fire Containment. These standards have been influential in reducing the number of fires that have destroyed portions of cities and entire structures. They are generally used in a prescriptive manner, i.e., for a location within a structure, a building code will require walls, floors and ceilings with particular ratings.Compartmentation is especially important in tall buildings, where the egress of numerous occupants can be a complex process, and barriers to the spread of flame keep the egress paths open, extend the time available for escape, and increase the safe time in places of refuge. For all these functions, it is necessary to know, in terms of real time, how long the interior partitions in a building will contain flames and smoke.BFRL has embarked on a course to provide such a methodology for inclusion in performance-based design of buildings. The research involves obtaining real-scale experimental data, modeling the behavior of partitions as they are driven to failure by the fire, and developing recommendations for obtaining the input parameters from modifications of standard fire resistance tests such as ASTM E119 [1] and ISO 834 [2]. The initial work will focus on non-loadbearing walls of gypsum panels screw attached to steel studs, the most common interior construction in tall buildings. A continuing effort will extend the research to glass-panel walls.To this end, a series of real-scale compartment tests were performed to provide information on the phenomenology of partition response and failure and also quantitative information to guide the model development. Various wall assemblies 2.44 m x 2.44 m were exposed to intense fires from the time of ignition to beyond flashover. The tests were performed using two types of gypsum board, type X and type C, screw attached to steel studs. The stud spacing and stud dimensions were fixed for all tests. Heat flux gauges provided time histories of the energy incident on the walls. Thermocouples and infrared cinema provided data on the propagation of heat through the walls and on the progress toward perforation. Results of this study will be presented and discussed.
Proceedings Title
Interflam 2004
Conference Dates
July 5-7, 2004
Conference Location
Conference Title
10th International Fire Science & Engineering Conference


fire resistance, partitions


Manzello, S. , Gann, R. , Kukuck, S. , Prasad, K. and Jones, W. (2004), Fire Performance of Partition Assemblies, Interflam 2004 , Edinburgh, -1 (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created July 7, 2004, Updated February 19, 2017