Throughout the history of deadly catastrophic building fires, combustible wall and ceiling finishes have often played a significant role in the unfortunate number of fire deaths. In many of these fires, the wall and ceiling finishes contributed to a very fast moving fire. In fact, these fires moved so quickly that conditions in the building became deadly in a matter of minutes. As a result, the fire protection engineering community has worked tirelessly to develop better testing methodologies, and stricter fire and building code requirements for wall and ceiling finishes.
When designing buildings to make them safer from fire, it is the fire protection engineer’s goal to ensure that during a fire, it takes less time for the building occupants to evacuate to a safe place before conditions in the building become untenable. Fire protection engineers do this by analyzing how buildings are used, how fires start, how fires grow, and how fire and smoke affect people, buildings and property. Additionally, they use the latest technologies to design systems that control fires, alert people to danger and provide means for escape. This includes ensuring that the proper interior finishes are installed for the appropriate occupancy and location in a building.