Fire Rated Hardwood Decking

By Bill Christou, 04/20/17

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Protecting your family from fire and smoke is a top priority for today’s homeowners, architects and contractors. Whether the project is new construction or remodel, the goal of the overall design should be to reduce the spread of flames and smoke during a fire emergency.

Over the past few years, many county planning and building departments have adopted more strict guidelines in the use of fire rated hardwood decking. This is especially true in drier climates such as California, Nevada, Arizona, Eastern Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah.

Class A Fire Rated Batu, Ipe and Cumaru Decking

Nova is the leading importer of fire rated exterior hardwood decking. Our Batu, Ipe and Cumaru decking have all been independently tested and shown to meet or exceed the Class-A Fire Ratings for use in areas of the country that require exterior wood decking with low flame spread ratings.
Types of Fire Protection
There are two primary forms of fire protection for buildings: passive and active.
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Active fire protection is used to aggressively battle the spread of the fire and includes automatic sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, standpipes, etc. There are also several additional active fire protections aimed at specific parts of a building.

Passive fire protection limits the transfer of heat or smoke from one area of a building to another through fire resistant construction. An excellent example of an option most building owners consider for passive firewall protection is Fire Rated Hardwood Decking.

During fire emergencies, passive fire protection shields those inside and defends the structure by limiting the spread of fire and smoke. While passive fire protection is usually invisible to the occupants, its significance in saving lives and protecting property is clear when a fire occurs.

Passive fire protection stops the spread of fire and smoke. It can also prevent the collapse of the building. When fire-resistant construction is properly done and maintained, a building's passive fire protection can save the building and lives.

Batu Hardwood Decking - Highest Class A Fire Rating - Lowest Flame Spread

Batu Flame Spread Burning Brand Test
The Class A designation is not easy to achieve for an exterior wood decking product. We were surprised to discover that our Batu outperformed higher density woods such as Ipe and Cumaru with the lowest flame spread rating. And in comparison to softwood decking materials, our Batu wood decking has a rating that exceeds other soft woods by as much a five times.

Due to the naturally occurring silica found within the wood, our Batu decking meets all of the most popular fire rating criteria - and, we have the test results to prove it!

Our fire rated Batu hardwood decking meets or exceeds: Section 709A, 2010 California Building Code, Chapter 7A; San Diego County Building Code, Section 26.3.6.2.1. United Laboratories of Canada, CAN/ULC-S102.2-10.

Flame Spread Graph of Batu vs. Red Oak Decking

Flame Spread of Batu Compared to Red Oak
The chart shown above illustrates the flame spread of our Batu fire rated decking in comparison to Red Oak lumber. Untreated soft wood lumber will have even lower ratings compared to Red Oak.

Ipe and Cumaru Fire Rated Decking

Nova's fire rated Ipe and fire rated Cumaru decking has also been tested.

While not quite as fire resistant as the Batu, both Ipe and Cumaru hardwood have very low flame spread ratings and meet Cal Fire, San Diego County and ASTM-84-10 specifications.
Ipe Flame Spread Burning Brand Test
Cumaru Flame Spread Burning Brand Test

Most industry publications show these high density hardwoods as Class-A Fire Rated. Please refer to these individual publications for further information. The USDA Wood Handbook is one of the best sources for information of this type.

Conclusion


Preparing for the possible outbreak of fire in a building with fire-resistant construction is a critical consideration for architects, contractors and the owners of the structure. A combination of fire protection methods when building or remodeling is the best defense for protecting a structure and those inside from the spread of fire and smoke.

The goal of both passive and active fire protection is to protect lives and the building. An excellent option for passive firewall protection is Class-A Fire Rated Hardwood Decking.

By Bill Christou, 04/20/17

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