Meeting/Event Information

NFPA 285 A Burning Question: Combustibles in Non-Combustible Construction

September 21, 2017
5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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AIA NC Center for Design and Architecture
14 East Peace Street
Raleigh, NC 27604
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Keith Nelson, Intertek


While many presentations touch on limited aspects of “NFPA 285” related to a specific product or issue, this presentation will look at the history and current scope of the test standard now known as NFPA 285 "Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components" and its expanded inclusion in the 2012 International Building Code model code requirements with specific regard to foam plastic and Water Resistive Barrier's (WRB’s). As we look toward AIA2030 or similar energy efficiency targets; increasing requirements of continuous exterior insulation; and limiting air infiltration more projects will likely face the time and cost of “reduced scale” testing or be limited to assemblies successfully tested by product manufacturers. In addition this presentation will explore the scope and status of recently accepted amendments to these requirements by local Authorities Having Jurisdictions (AHJ's).


  1. Discuss history and development of the NFPA 285 test and its predecessors
  2. Discuss the current scope, process, and compliance requirements of NFPA 285 compliant assemblies
  3. Describe the current 2012 IBC requirements for NFPA 285 compliance for foam plastics and WRB’s
  4. Discuss the challenges with NFPA 285 and Type III wood framed construction and possible solutions


Keith Nelson has provided critical on-site evaluation of design details and field review of new and existing building enclosure projects. He has been involved in a broad range of projects with services including enclosure evaluation, detailing, design and product submittal review, construction phase observation and evaluation, below-grade waterproofing investigation, testing and repair, and building code analysis. Mr. Nelson is currently a voting member of the ASHRAE 90.1 Envelope Committee and has served on the technical committee that updated the building enclosure requirements in the GSA P100 Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service.  He regularly assists state and local municipalities in the review and adoption of the 2012 International Building Codes. Prior to joining Intertek, he had more than fifteen years of combined experience in enclosure consulting, architectural design and as a construction manager for Habitat for Humanity.


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