October 11, 2022 at 3:00 p.m.

By Heidi J. Ellsworth.  

With the number of fires across the country it seems to be a year-round concern.  But late summer through fall is one of the worst times for wildfires. 

According to Fire Loss in the United States in 2018 NFPA.org, “In the United States, an estimated 1.3 million fires caused more than $25.6 billion in property damage, including $12 billion from wildfires, in 2018 alone.” And today according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, house fires are estimated to spread five to 10 times faster than 50 years ago due to increased use of synthetic materials.” 

Wildfires don’t only affect communities located in forested areas; they often spread to homes and businesses located on the edge of wildlands. Studies show that one in three houses and one in 10 hectares of land are now located in wildland–urban interface zones, and WUI zones are the fastest-growing land use type in the contiguous U.S. 

It is not just in the wild lands that fire is causing problems but, in every city, too.  According to the ROCKWOOL website, “After several large-scale hotel and nightclub fires in the mid-20th century that resulted in the tragic loss of life, fire safety and building design professional organizations created testing methods to rate materials based on how quickly they burn and develop smoke. Today, model codes developed by the International Code Council (IBC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reference NFPA 285 as the test standard for exterior wall assemblies.” 

ROCKWOOL continues to explain the development of NFPA 285, “It started in the 1970s in response to the increasing use of foam plastic exterior insulation in exterior wall assemblies to achieve compliance with increasingly strict energy codes. The test method evaluates how flames propagate on an exterior wall assembly subjected to a standardized fire exposure. It simulates a two-story wall assembly with an opening to simulate a window on the first-story wall, and the floors are separated by a floor assembly.  

The NFPA 285 assesses flame propagation in the following ways:  

  1. Over the exterior wall surface 

  1. Within the combustible core or components 

  1. Over the interior surface from one floor to the next 

  1. Laterally to adjacent compartments 

It is becoming more important than ever to look at the construction of buildings using noncombustible materials.  ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation has taken the lead providing information to help specifiers, contractors and building owners understand fire safety.   

“We’re here to help you better understand fire safety regulations in building codes, fire safety testing standards and design requirements for wildland–urban interface zones,” states Dave Lawlor, VP Sales for ROCKWOOL North America.  “Mitigating fire risk is key to designing homes, commercial spaces and multifamily residential buildings that provide safe places for families to live, work, attend school, shop and recreate.” 

ROCKWOOL is committed to reducing the human and economic loss associated with fire through long-term partnerships with fire safety organizations. They advocate for new fire safety technologies and stronger fire-safety regulations based on research and real-world experience.  

Learn more about ROCKWOOL’S fire safety advocacy work

Heidi J. Ellsworth is the president of RoofersCoffeeShop.

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