A fire test is a means of determining whether fire protection products meet minimum performance criteria as set out in a building code or other applicable legislation. Successful tests in laboratories holding national accreditation for testing and certification result in the issuance of a certification listing.
Components and systems subject to certification fire testing include fire rated walls and floors, closures within them such as windows, fire doors, fire dampers, structural steel, and fire stops. Fire tests are conducted both on active fire protection and on passive fire protection items. There are full-scale, small-scale and bench-scale tests.
Fire testing considers all applicable provisions of the product certification.
A fire test can also mean an ad hoc test performed to gather information in order to understand a specific hazard, such as a construction or storage configuration. Tests can be bench scale (e.g., flammable liquid flash point), medium scale (e.g., storage commodity classification), or full scale (e.g., replication of an entire rack storage configuration). Typical information gathered from full-scale testing is heat release rate vs. time, smoke production and species composition, radiant heat, and interaction with fire control or suppression systems.
Many fire tests are run by official laboratories for the purpose of product certification. However, some manufacturers of fire protection products also maintain their own facilities and run tests for R & D purposes before going to the expense and exposure of a test at a third party facility.
Some universities have functioning fire research groups which are equipped to run fire tests on building materials.