The following article was written by Marek Fabric Panels Project Manager, Bill Rankin, and was originally published on MarekBros.com.
In commercial construction, fabric panels systems seldom hit the radar when Fire Code compliance is considered. They usually come to light after an incident. Typically, Plan Review Departments within some major metropolitan areas focus primarily on the obvious considerations of occupancy, egress, exits, stairwells, sprinkler heads and strobes long before wall finishes and then, sometimes they are not considered or reviewed at all. The continual non-enforcement of fire ratings and testing on textiles or fabric panel systems contributes to the complacency about fire code compliance for those systems. The lack of enforcement may actually make it appear to some contractors and designers that the code is non-existent, but the code does exist.
If a state, city or metropolitan area adopts the International Building Code (IBC), then wall finishes and fabric panel systems fall under Chapter 8 Section 803 for fire code compliance. Section 803.1.1 describes that “Interior wall and ceiling finish materials shall be classified in accordance with ASTM E84 or UL 723. Such Interior finish materials shall be grouped in the following classes in accordance with their flame spread and smoke developed indexes. Class A, B or C.”
What is true about the IBC is that it establishes the minimum requirements, and a jurisdiction cannot subtract from a code or contend that a section of the code does not apply. A jurisdiction can only add to the code, and usually those additions create more stringent requirements than the code may already provide. Read more » about Liability for Fire Code Compliance in the Absence of Enforcement