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The Burning Reason Behind Fire Code Compliance in AHUs

A fundamental purpose of model mechanical codes and HVAC standards is to protect both people and property from the inherent dangers of fire and smoke.  With air handling systems being the vessels used to circulate and distribute air throughout a building, it only makes sense that these codes and standards would seek to minimize the opportunity for fire to start and/or spread within air handling systems.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the world’s leading authority for establishing fire prevention standards. Collectively with the Uniform Mechanical Code and International Mechanical Code, these model codes and standards serve as the foundation for all state and local fire codes.  NFPA 90A is one such HVAC standard which is required as part of the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), being a widely adopted fire prevention standard in the U.S. More specifically, NFPA 90A sets forth the “Standard for the Installation of Air Conditioning and Ventilating Systems”, outlining the stringent compliance requirements for any product or supplementary material exposed to the air stream within an HVAC System.

NFPA 90A, Section requires “a maximum flame spread index of 25 without evidence of continued progressive combustion and a maximum smoke developed index of 50 when tested in accordance with ASTM E-84, Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials”.

To prove NFPA 90A compliance, an installing contractor should provide a valid test report from an accredited laboratory demonstrating that the product or supplementary material in question and intended to be used inside an air handler has been tested to ASTM E-84 and meets the requirements above.  The contractor should also provide verification that the application thickness of the coating as tested be no less than the coating application thickness installed in the air handler.

It’s worth noting that according to an NFPA report on Fire in Health Care Facilities published in November of 2012, statistics showed that U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 6,240 structure fires in or on health care properties per year between 2006 and 2010, resulting in $52.1 million in direct property damage annually.  Of these structure fires, 880 (or nearly 15%) were attributable to heating, ventilation and cooling equipment.

So, what does this mean for your air handlers?  It means compliance is key.  And from a maintenance perspective, it means that facilities professionals have limited resources when it comes to viable and compliant solutions for repairing air handlers plagued with leaks, rust, corrosion, or dead standing water due to poorly sloped condensate pans – until now.

AQUIS solves this problem with its innovative composite coating system, offering a quality customized solution for eradicating common – and often chronic – AHU problems mentioned above, and in full compliance with all regulatory requirements – including The Joint Commission, NFPA 90A and all local fire codes.  See here for AQUIS compliance information.

Other helpful links:

Underwriters Laboratories, better known as “UL”, is the global safety science company known for its innovative safety solutions.  UL wrote an informational article called “Products Used in Air Handling Spaces”.  Click here to review this article.

Click here for a reference of frequently asked questions regarding fire code compliance for coatings installed in air handling units.

Sample pages from The Joint Commission/NFPA Life Safety Book for Health Care Organizations can be viewed here.

The 2015 Edition of NFPA 101’s Life Safety Code can be accessed online at NFPA’s website.  Simply click on this link and then create a free access NFPA account in order to view the standard in its entirety.

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