Fire Performance Evaluations for the Construction Industry

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has provided fire evaluation services to the construction industry for more than 40 years.

Full-scale evaluations are conducted in the SwRI Large-Product Calorimeter to determine potential hazards by measuring heat release rates.

Windows are tested in accordance with ASTM, NFPA, UBC, and international standards, to determine radiation transmission to adjacent structures.

SwRI evaluates the fire performance of a variety of materials, products, and construction elements following high-rise curves and positive pressure requirements in strict accordance with procedures specified by agencies and fire codes such as:

  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
  • Uniform Fire Code (UFC)
  • Uniform Building Code (UBC)
  • Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA)
  • Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • American National Standards Institute/Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (ANSI/IEEE)
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
  • International Standards Organization (ISO)
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • National Standard of Canada/ Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada (CAN/ULC)

Using large vertical and horizontal furnaces, SwRI tests full-scale (loaded or unloaded) walls, doors, windows, floors, suspended ceilings, bulkheads, decks, penetration seals, beams, and columns. Sections of walls and floors, mechanically attached fittings, penetration seals, and miscellaneous construction components are evaluated for developmental screening purposes in a small horizontal furnace. SwRI evaluates exterior multistory wall panel systems in accordance with UBC 26-4 (full scale), UBC 26-9 (intermediate scale), and radiant panel procedures. Interior finish materials are evaluated for flame propagation, smoke generation, rate of heat release, and other parameters used by regulatory agencies.

SwRI evaluates fire-rated doors under controlled pressure conditions in accordance with ASTM, NFPA, UBC, UL, and international standards.

SwRI uses state-of-the-art computer software to provide detailed, accurate, and timely fire-performance information. All information is confidential. Clients are encouraged to arrange a tour of the test facilities.


The SwRI Department of Fire Technology is accredited by the International Accreditation Service, Inc. (IAS), which encompasses the three major model building code jurisdictions in the United States, as a qualified testing laboratory and a third-party quality assurance and inspection agency in accordance with IAS Report Nos. TL-214 and AA-665, respectively. The Department has been designated a "Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL)" by OSHA and has been accredited in all major state and local jurisdictions throughout the U.S., including the city of Los Angeles, Miami-Dade County, and the city of New York. The Department has been accepted by the U.S. Coast Guard to provide testing and follow-up programs in support of Type Approval per the IMO FTP Code. Internationally, the Department is recognized by The Standards Council of Canada, Lloyd's Register of Shipping, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), and the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).

The SwRI Department of Fire Technology is one of the world's largest organizations devoted to fire research and testing.

This flyer was originally published in January 1997. For more information about fire performance evaluations for the construction industry, contact Karen Carpenter, Department of Fire Technology, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-3718, Fax (210) 522-3377.

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