View Full Version : EIFS, another aspect for thought

Jerry Peck
05-05-2008, 08:19 PM
For you guys (and gals) out there in EIFS land, ever thought about, or ever seen, EIFS catch fire?

Wondering what the house looks like after a fire, what with combustible siding more combustible than typical wood siding.

I was reading in my NFPA Journal today about a hotel fire earlier this year where the fire originated on the roof, but due to the EIFS on the exterior, the fire spread DOWNWARD down the exterior walls, blowing out some windows and then entering the hotel interior from there.

What would have been a much less costly fire turned into a very costly fire: "The total damage caused by the fire and the associated business interruptions is estimated as $100 million."

YouTube - Monte Carlo Hotel/Casino Fire (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC0TB8Hafys)

Steven Turetsky
05-07-2008, 06:40 PM
Hi Jerry,

Once again you have caused me to don my thinking cap. I started writing a response to your "challange", but came across this item. It's very informative and addresses even more than I would have included.

By the way, although the material that burned at the Monte Carlo was EIFS-like, it was not a true EIFS system. There were ingrediants that contained urethanes that are very flamable. I am going to post some more information regarding this subject.

click here (http://www.wconline.com/CDA/Archive/289b01b7fb768010VgnVCM100000f932a8c0____)

and here (http://www.stocorp.com/webfiles.nsf/htmlmedia/EIMAFinal020108.pdf/%24file/EIMAfinal020108.pdf)

Jerry Peck
05-07-2008, 07:19 PM

Thanks for the links.

The Monte Carlo Hotel (according to the article in my NFPA Journal) was built in 1994 and 1995 under the 1991 Uniform Building Code.

They referred to the exterior as EIFS, and referenced EIFS to ASTM C 1177, Standard Specification for Glass Mat Gypsum Substrate for Use as Sheathing for construction of EIFS.

NFPA 285, specifically developed to evaluate various wall finishes, was finalized in 1998 and became NFPA Standard 285.

The article goes on to state that a greater thickness is permissible if the International Code Council Evaluation Services Report provides specific data on the material thickness in excess of 4 inches.

Now (thanks to your first link) know where the 4 inches came from.

However, the building was built before that standard was created.

One would think that the Monte Carlo Hotel people would want the material tested, then, if the tests show that the material used was not proper EIFS material, they could then go after those manufacturers and contractors.

Aaron Miller
05-08-2008, 05:04 AM
For you guys (and gals) out there in EIFS land, ever thought about, or ever seen, EIFS catch fire?

Nice videos, but easier way to confirm is to go down to 7-11, buy a cheap expanded polystyrene ice chest, take it home and put it in the alley and light it on fire. For more realism, put a doll house inside before sparking it up.


John Carroll
05-14-2008, 04:48 PM
Nice scientific testing method you have there, What is the ASTM no. for that again?? bozo101?

I would guess the fire rating for the walls at the casino were being carried by the densglas type drywall material, as was noted in the article, EIFS attached to a rated assembly has no effect on the ability of the assembly to resist fire for the stated time.

Aaron Miller
05-15-2008, 01:42 AM
Nice scientific testing method you have there, What is the ASTM no. for that again?? bozo101?


It was an attempt at humor which obviously was over your head.


John Carroll
05-20-2008, 12:37 PM
Humor not over my head. Disingenuous lip flapping, maybe...

Thanks for striking at the root. Watch your foot.

peter legeros
11-03-2011, 07:38 AM
Hi Jerry,

Steve T's link to EIFS is very informative. Most EIFS suppliers now have ICC reports for up to 13" thick EPS that have passed the NFPA 285 testing requirements.

Foam plastic such as XPS is used as continuous insulation in exteror wall cavities in cooler climates. This wall assembly is an industry standard for a majority of commercial building but triggers NFPA 285 testing. NFPA 285 is a mandatory expensive full scale test required by IBC 2603.5.5 for multi story Type I, II, III, IV exterior wall assemblies incorporating foam plastics.

The excerpt in the Code appears to be more often than not, misunderstood by code officials, designers, and the construction industry in general. There are literally millions of square feet of (non EIFS) untested exterior wall assemblies (especially XPS behind rain screen claddings) currently and in process of being constructed much of which is non code complying.

Approved assemblies available to designers include expensive propriatary components, and unacceptable moisture and dew point conditions in wall assemblies, especially in zone 6 type climates. It is not clear how approved assemblies accommodate design variations and expressions in the exterior walls such as canopies and wall outcroppings for accents.

There is an effort to revise this testing requirement in the IBC championed by the Building Enclosure Council a division of the National Industry of Building Sciences (NIBS). The task group's team of Fire Protection Engineers are to evaluate the risk/need or appropriateness of this mandatory test and to explore alternatives to the mandatory testing requirement that may be included in the 2015 IBC Code issuances.

Joseph Ehrhardt
11-04-2011, 04:59 AM
I do a lot of highrise work here along the coast, you would be amazed on whats on high occupancy buildings that contain a form of polystyrene... this Alcan product exposed its ugly side,check this out #5 in this article, the author also mentions JP's Monte Carlo Hotel, His conclusions raise some eye, I always question how true testing of materials is performed.

Modern Building Materials Are Factors in Atlantic City Fires - Fire Engineering (http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/2010/05/modern-building-materials-are-factors-in-atlantic-city-fires.html)

peter legeros
11-04-2011, 06:55 AM

Interesting article. Especially the debris "mote around the building."

Hughes Associates did an analysis of the Monte Carlo Hotel fire. It is supposed the fire started on the exterior via welding sparks from roof work to a catwalk installation. The primary contributor to the flames was EPS semi exposed on the exterior. The finish on the accent outcroppings over the insulation used a urethane coating in lieu of a layer of hard finish normally used over the EPS. The semi exposed combustibles ignited but the flames on the exterior never significantly reached the interior because the fire suppression system engaged and prevented spread to the interior. No life lost.

The appropriateness of the severe NFPA 285 test is currently under evaluation and the code language may be changed or the test expunged from the code. An unfortunate aspect of these spectacular fires is they are poster childs for supporting expensive NFPA 285 testing of exterior wall assemblies.

The test was originated to test EIFS assemblies in the 70's, the mandatory testing requirement went unnoticed by the design and construction industry because it was mainly a test for EIFS assemblies. However, over the years, the test morphed into a more severe and full scale testing. This to went unnoticed by the non EFIS industry.

The test addresses flashover fire and floor to floor fire jumping, however; the test does not appear to account for sprinkler system suppression nor does the test entertain exemptions based on minimal risk locations that are not subject to high risk from vandalism, car fire, adjacent building fire etc. I hope the national task force effort by the National Institute of Building Sciences to change the code is successful.

There are hundreds of untested assemblies currently built and under construction that are at variance with this excerpt in the code. The design and construction industry really needs these code clarifications and revisions.