Lew Migliore, the Industry's Troubleshooter and President of LGM & Associates Technical Flooring Services. LGM specializes in the practice of consulting on and trouble shooting all flooring related complaints, problems, and performance issues having experts in every category as well as related educational services.
Fire Rating For Carpet
Recently a dealer called and requested the California fire rating for carpet. He was bidding on the installation of broadloom into a local school and they were requiring him to meet California's standards even though the school is not located in that state.
We contacted the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), to find out if California actually had a fire code rating and what it was. We were informed, to the best of anyone's knowledge, California does not have a state-wide fire code except for restrained areas such as state prisons and county and city jails.
These areas require Class I radiant panel test ratings and less than 450 on the ASTM E662 smoke density test. It was also suggested that the retailer refer to the local building and fire code authorities for guidance as to what is required for the particular occupancy under their jurisdiction.
At this point, we determined that someone involved with the bid process and the selection of the carpet failed to get his facts straight and that requiring a fire code used in California was illconceived.
The person probably thought that since California has such stringent regulations for so many things, if they said meet the state code, they would be subjecting the process to the most rigid of standards.
To be certain we got the most up-to-date information, we looked further. Let me say this first, any broadloom that is manufactured in the U.S. with the specific purpose of use in schools is already going to meet the most stringent fire and smoke rating standards governed by the industry itself.
That standard is a Class I radiant panel test, which is the highest standard there is for fire rating of any carpet. California or not, there isn't anything higher. Fire code rating for a carpet product is a local issue mandated by the municipality or government of a particular city or town.
The fire rating for schools could only be as high as Class I. Class II rating typically could be used if the school had a fire suppression sprinkler system, depending on local codes.
In addition to the flame spread rating of either Class I or Class II, the floor covering must also have a smoke density rating or 450 or less. Both of these tests are typically performed on all commercial floor coverings designed for critical installations.
The standard fire rating a broadloom must meet are normal, whether the state be California, New York or Idaho, makes no difference. There is not a higher standard for any one state and no carpet is made specifically for a particular state because it has to meet a more stringent fire code.
Whomever it was that told the dealer that he had to meet what he thought was the highest of standards is wrong. They don't know what they're talking about. All the dealer had to do is call the broadloom's manufacturer and find out what products it has that have met the highest fire rating and smoke density requirements which could be used in a school.
Mills routinely have to have products they are selling into these environments tested and they know which products will meet the code and perform correctly. The retailer's rep could easily find this information out for him. All he'd have to do is ask.
Mohawk and Shaw, for example, have been selling specific products into the school market for years. They have done so in every state in the union that meets the requirements being requested of this dealer.
It's obvious the person who is handling the bidding on the school project doesn't have a clue about carpet and they sent this poor guy scrambling for what he thought was some special product, exclusive to the state of California.
Schools in that state are no different than those anywhere else and the children who occupy them are no less important than kids in other parts of the country. The carpet industry is very responsible when it comes to the safety of its products.
Probably more so than the majority of other industries. Whenever someone tells you that you have to provide a broadloom mandated by a particular state for a particular level of performance, whatever it may be, a red flag should go up.
Either they don't know what they're talking about or you should run like the wind because they think they do. Chances are they may be more trouble than they're worth.
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