By Mark Knurek
National Sales Manager, North America, BlazeMaster
It’s only a certification to UL Standard 1821, but it represents two years of research and development on the part of BlazeMaster® Fire Protection Systems.
BlazeMaster Pipe & Fittings has updated its UL certificationfxttttycbzfbvwcrxb for use in basements with exposed joists up to 16 inches in height and expanded blocking requirements to 40 feet. Previously, it had been certified for use in basements with exposed joists only up to 12 inches in height and blocking requirements to 32 feet. It is now the only CPVC fire sprinkler system to be approved for use in basements with exposed joists up to 16 inches in height.
The push for the new UL certification began at a 2014 meeting BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems held with fire sprinkler contractors to get feedback on its products and keep abreast of industry issues. The standard size for basement joists was increasing from a foot to 14 and even 16 inches, the contractors said. That was a problem for those who wanted to be able to use the CPVC product in basements with the taller joists, but were forced to switch to steel instead.
“This was a specific contractor request. We stay current on industry standards and listen to our customers and make every effort to give them what they need,” said Forest Hampton III, manager of codes and approvals for Lubrizol Corp., BlazeMaster’s parent company. Hampton led the effort to secure the new certification.
Preliminary research showed that the pipe and fittings could meet the 16-inch standard and that the effort to earn the new listing would make sense economically, Hampton said. Then it was a matter of designing and initiating the testing process.
“BlazeMaster hadn’t updated its UL certification in years and many of the people who were involved the last time had retired,” Hampton said. “We had to figure out what we needed to do and design the tests.”
BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems performed two extensive rounds of testing, trying different sprinkler spacings and patterns, varying ceiling heights, joist sizes and blocking distances. The challenge with taller joists is that the sprinklers on the bottom of the joists are farther away from the ceiling where the volume of hot air builds first; engineers had to prove that the sprinkler system would still activate in time to control the fire without it suffering any damage that could interfere with its ability to perform.
A typical test involved positioning a sprinkler on a joist above a heptane fire; allowing the fire to burn for 10 minutes to activate the sprinkler; allowing the sprinkler to knock down the fire; replacing the sprinkler; repressurizing the system to 175 psi for 15 minutes while checking for leaks.
“You can’t have any leaks at all,” Hampton said. “Even a drip leak means failure.”
Once BlazeMaster Pipe & Fittings was satisfied with its results, it went to UL to perform the tests that would determine if it could achieve the new certification.
It’s common for manufacturers to do their own testing before approaching UL, said Engineering Manager Emil Misichko. Companies prefer to submit products for testing when they are confident they’ll pass. As a third-party testing and certification organization, UL even works with manufacturers on the development of products to help them understand the construction and performance requirements to meet UL standards.
UL witnessed the conduct of eight tests in four days last year and verified the results against its requirements. BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems earned the certification, Misichko said.
“It took a year-and-a-half of testing from when we started to when we were finished, but it was worth it,” Hampton said.
The new certification is welcomed by BlazeMaster’s manufacturing partners, such as Tyco Fire Protection Products.
“The contractors in basement markets are very happy with the new listing. This is something they have been asking for, so job well done by Lubrizol to listen to our customers and deliver a solution back to the market,” said Don Ricca, Global Product Manager – Water Fire Suppression Products for Tyco.
The new certification will make it easier for contractors to install BlazeMaster pipe, he said. “Builders don’t want to hear why something can’t be done. As an industry, we want to show builders that having residential fire protection and all its life-saving benefits doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult,” Ricca said.
Tyco appreciates BlazeMaster’s commitment to updating its UL certifications. “An initiative such as this definitely supports our partnership. Creating more applications for the use of CPVC helps us, our customers, and the industry as a whole,” Ricca said.
To see a video of the testing, click here.