Sharing the Wealth

Leveraging research, field experience and loss data to create international standards

Product certification standards are the lifeblood of FM Approvals. Hundreds of standards developed and maintained by FM Approvals are the basis for product evaluation and the FM APPROVED certification mark. In addition, FM Approvals also works to establish or strengthen standards used by national and international standards organizations, such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). As part of this effort, FM Approvals engineers and executives serve on nearly 200 standards committees globally.

In many cases, Approval Standards are used as the basis for certain national and international standards, particularly in cases where no similar standards exist. Approval Standards are also increasingly used by corporations, regional authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and other regulators as the basis for local certification. Such is the case in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), China and at Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest petrochemical company.

"We bring to the table our standards, the research behind them and the field experience, including our loss data, and put them forth as the basis for international standards,” notes Rich Ferron, FM Approvals operations vice president and manager of testing and certification. "We then work with the other committee members from other countries and develop the standard as an international standard. In some cases, the standard that emerges does not necessarily look like ours—it’s not our twin—but you can see that it’s pretty close. It has our DNA. In other cases, the standard that emerges is virtually our standard in every respect. Either way, we believe we are helping to fortify loss prevention standards around the world.”

Standards development on a global scale

As FM Approvals has expanded around the world, it has worked diligently to help strengthen loss prevention standards in the countries in which it operates. FM Approvals serves directly on national committees to share, educate and ultimately support the development of new product testing standard that support property loss prevention. In the European market, FM Approvals is both a Notified Body (NB) and a Technical Assessment Body (TAB) under the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and a member of the European Organisation for Technical Assessment (EOTA). As such, FM Approvals is qualified to issue European Technical Assessments (ETAs) for applicable construction products required for CE marking. This "EOTA process” is used when there is no EN (European Standard) covering a construction product and there is a need for the TAB/EOTA to effectively "write the standard” to allow the product to be assessed.

Witali Engelhardt, FM Approvals advanced engineer, based in Frankfurt, Germany, notes that the CEN (European Committee for Standardization) oversees the Technical Specification (TS) for water mist fire extinguishing systems (CEN TS 14792) and has agreed to adopt several fire test protocols from Approval Standard 5560, Water Mist Systems, into the CEN standard. "The test protocols include those for the protection of machinery and turbine enclosures, as well as non-storage occupancies, wet benches and industrial oil cookers,” says Engelhardt. "I worked closely with our water mist specialist in the United States, Jon Carpenter [advanced engineer, West Glocester, Rhode Island], and wrote a European version of the test protocols and provided that to the other committee members for review. We received very few comments. Most of the committee members know our standards already and some have FM Approved water mist systems, so they are very happy to have it as a European standard.”

FM Approvals has also been a participant in the IEC standards development process through the U.S. National Committee of the IEC (USNC/IEC) since the 1960s. FM Approvals is particularly active with Technical Committee (TC) 31, which addresses the need for techniques for ensuring that electrical equipment will not provide an explosion risk when used in explosive atmospheres. One of the standards that falls under the purview of TC31 is IEC 60079-1: 2014, which contains specific requirements for the construction and testing of electrical equipment with the flameproof enclosure type of protection, "d,” intended for use in explosive gas atmospheres.

Change for the better

Four years ago, a manufacturer of FM Approved heat detectors, Det-Tronics, which is part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), also sought Canadian, ATEX and IECEx certification through FM Approvals for a new heat detector. The FM Approved heat detector was of welded construction and hermetically sealed. The IEC 60079-1 standard at that time required the manufacturer to perform a hydrostatic overpressure test on the welded joints of each detector produced.

"It wasn’t possible to conduct that test on a hermetically sealed device,” notes Jon Miller, Det-Tronics’ approvals engineering manager. "We worked on a strategy with Bill Lawrence of FM Approvals to change the IEC standard to enable us to conduct cost-effective testing. We would have had to drill a hole into every unit, then weld the hole, and test the new weld we just made, and so on. It didn’t make sense. There are many other ways to test welded joints, including x-rays, dye penetrant inspection (DPI), ultrasonic and so on.”

Bill Lawrence, FM Approvals assistant vice president, principal engineer for hazardous locations, says, "We worked with Jon Miller and his team to propose a change to IEC 60079-1. We also worked with the technical advisory group (TAG) here in the United States to make sure everybody, including our standards maintenance team experts, supported the proposal. We are just one voice on the committee, but we can be a strong advocate for our customers.”

The dye penetrant inspection method was made an option in IEC 60079-1 in 2014 after three years of work by Det-Tronics and FM Approvals. "It’s really a success story for us,” Miller concludes. "We are now well positioned in the marketplace to provide our customers with worldwide certifications for our heat detectors. We have a variety of products for which we have used FM Approvals not only for the FM Approvals diamond, but also for ATEX and IECEx certifications.”

Open path to new standard

Det-Tronics’ Jon Miller is also chairperson of the maintenance team for the IEC open path gas detection standard, IEC 60079-29-4. Open path or line of sight gas detectors—IR, laser, ultraviolet—are used most often to monitor open spaces above rows of valves, tanks or pipelines. He explains how Approval Standard 6325, Combustible Open Path Gas Monitors, became the basis for the IEC standard.

"When we want to create a new standard, whoever submits a new work item proposal to the IEC must include a proposed standard for that new work item,” Miller explains. "It provides a starting point and often forms the foundation for the new IEC standard. In this case, we included Approval Standard 6325 along with European standards EN 50241-1 and -2.”

According to Lawrence, "The Europeans were working on an open path gas detection standard at about the same time we developed our standard. The resulting IEC standard was really a combination of the Approval Standard and the European effort.”

"The European Union gets 28 votes when it comes to IEC standards, so oftentimes standards are changed to European-style structure,” Miller continues. "At least the U.S. technical requirements—in this case from Approval Standard 6325—are incorporated in the standard. Such was the case with IEC 60079-29-4.”

Making a difference in China

In China, FM Approvals has not only established strategic alliances (see article in this issue) for the local testing of roofing and other products, but Approval Standards have been incorporated or adopted as Chinese National Standards, referred to as "GB standards” where GB stands for "Guobiao,”Chinese for "national standard.” According to Dr. Bert Yu, principal research scientist, in the case of Approval Standard 2008, Suppression Mode [early suppression, fast-response (ESFR)] Automatic Sprinklers, the standard was adopted as a Chinese GB standard in the 1990s. "In fact, we translated our ESFR standard into Chinese for them,” he recalls. "We did a significant amount of work to transfer that standard to the Chinese.”

Dr. Yu, who is based in Norwood, Massachusetts, USA, serves as a consultant on China’s National Technical Committee for Fire Protection Standardization. "Our standards, particularly our sprinkler standards, are highly respected there,” Dr. Yu says. "They recognize FM Approvals as a world leader and are open to whatever we are willing to share with them. The more that there is an exchange of technical knowledge, the better it is from a loss prevention and business perspective. In this way, the quality of their protection standards will increase, making it easier for our field engineers and FM Approved manufacturers trying to do business there.” China also uses Approval Standards covering cleanroom materials, wind uplift (see Building Bridges article this issue) and water mist.

Stronger together

Several years ago, FM Approvals embarked on an effort to strengthen the Approval Standard for perimeter flashing, Standard 4435, at the time entitled Roof Perimeter Flashing. At the same time, the U.S. trade organization, Single Ply Roofing Industry (SPRI), sought to modify its own flashing standard, SPRI ES-1.

The two organizations worked closely together to achieve a consensus standard that could be incorporated into the International Building Code (IBC). Both groups agreed to make changes to improve each other’s standard. For instance, the original SPRI test RE-1 was modified to change the angle at which the test membrane is held from 45 degrees to the 25 degrees recommended by FM Approvals. Similarly, Approval Standard 4435 was modified to reflect the SPRI ES-1 standard that calls for full-size flashing pieces to be tested. The original Approval Standard called for three-foot (0.9-meter) test sections.

The resulting consensus standard was adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in late 2011 as ANSI/SPRI/FM 4435/ES-1. Approval Standard 4435, containing the consensus changes, was reissued in 2013 and renamed Edge Systems Used with Low Slope Roofing Systems. "Currently, I am participating in the ANSI canvas for a gutter standard proposed by SPRI, known as GTS-1,” notes Phil Smith, FM Approvals assistant vice president and principal engineer. "Our hope is that we can work with SPRI through the ANSI process, and that the proposed test becomes one that we can adopt as an approval test, in the same fashion we did with the flashing test. If this works out, we would reference the ANSI/SPRI gutter standard in our Approval Standard 4435 and issue Approvals based on that new test standard.”

Serving the greater good

As noted earlier, FM Approvals engineers serve on nearly 200 standards committees in North America and abroad. These committees encompass a broad range of organizations, including those mentioned earlier— IEC, ISO, ANSI, NFPA, NFSA and ASTM—as well as the British Electrotechnical Committee (BEC), Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association International (DASMA), American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) and American Water Works Association (AWWA). Also noted earlier, FM Approvals is deeply involved in committees of the IEC. "When it comes to our work with manufacturers on product certification for hazardous locations, we are typically using the ANSI adoption of the IEC standards,” explains Lawrence.

the hazardous location certification area worldwide, we are told what standards to use, how we apply them and under what circumstances. We have some legacy standards for division-classified areas, but going forward the trend will be to use our national adoptions of the IEC standards. We are influencing what we can at the international level, so we have much less work to do at the national level.”

By serving on IEC committees, FM Approvals has a front seat to standards development. "We can drive or try to drive standards in the direction we want them to go because we have direct input into the technical aspects of the standards,” says Nick Ludlam, FM Approvals senior engineering specialist, based in Windsor, U.K. "If we have a particular issue raised through our research, from a manufacturer/customer or from the field, we can work to get those requirements into an existing standard or develop any part of the standard to reduce ambiguity or add areas that may not have been addressed in the past.”

FM Approvals staff is particularly active as the IEC U.S. National Committee technical advisory group (TAG) administrator for Technical Committee (TC) 31, and Subcommittees (SC) 31G, 31J and 31M. For instance, Jim Marquedant is the FM Approvals representative on the USNC Council; Bill Lawrence represents FM Approvals on the USNC Technical Management Committee and Conformity Assessment Policy Coordination Committee, and is chairperson of the U.S. TAG for TC31; Nick Ludlam is the international secretary for SC31G; and Josephine Mahnken serves as the U.S. TAG secretary for TC31, SC31G, SC31J and SC31M. "FM Approvals has been involved with the USNC since day one,” notes Charlie Zegers, a 35-year veteran of ANSI and general secretary of the USNC/IEC. "We have seen many situations where the United States gets into trouble when we are not at the table when standards are written and commitments made. Most people who are actively involved made a commitment to be there to make sure that, when things happen, we have a contribution. FM Approvals made that decision long ago. They are definitely living up to that commitment.” Ron Sinclair is technical manager with SGS Baseefa, chair of Cenelec TC31 and the U.K. standards committee EXL/31, as well as the vicechair of the European Notified Body Group, ExNB.

"Standards development relies on the people who have been working in the industry and dealt with things at the sharp end for a long period of time,” Sinclair observes. "That’s the only way to be able to pick up on the nuances and know when things need to be changed. We’ve worked with both Bill Lawrence and Nick Ludlam for many years. Because Nick is based in the U.K., we often use him as a sounding board when we’ve got issues, and Nick will often make contact with us to talk through issues that have been raised within FM Approvals. One of the problems is that standards in our fields are written in a generic form that frequently requires a lot of interpretation. Nick and Bill are often involved in discussions with us, in order to ensure that we can work out mutually agreeable answers. Perhaps we discuss the outcome of something—did we consider this aspect. Those sorts of discussions make our FM Approvals contacts incredibly valuable in the standards development process.” Russ Fleming is executive vice president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), an industry trade group based in Patterson, New York, USA. "Our association with FM Approvals really didn’t get started until about 1974, when efforts began on developing international fire sprinkler products standards through the ISO. We needed to get FM Approvals and UL (Underwriter Laboratories, Inc.) together to develop a U.S. position. At that time, we formed the FM/UL/NFSA standards review committee. The committee has been highly successful over the years in helping our manufacturers better understand the intent of the two certification laboratories.”

FM Approvals is also a governing member of the International Fire Sprinkler Association (IFSA), a separate entity created by the NFSA to promote sprinkler use around the world. The European Fire Sprinkler Network (EFSN) and the Associação Brasileira de Sprinklers (ABSpk) of Brazil are among the organizations founded with IFSA assistance. "The unique perspective FM Approvals brings to our organizations is in the fact that this is more than academic exercise for them when it comes to their input on product quality and performance. They also have the research resources they can bring to bear when it comes to standards and product testing.”

Fleming adds, "When we travel to educational conferences around the world and FM Approvals talks about the Approval process, it’s a real eye-opener for many laboratories in parts of the world where they are only doing a portion of the testing needed for sprinkler products. FM Approvals global expansion is also bringing new members into the IFSA. Our newest governing member is a Turkish manufacturer of FM Approved ally doesn’t work,” concludes Rich Ferron, FM Approvals vice president of operations. "When we meet with standards committees or other standards organizations, we will often use specific examples of losses. ‘Here’s something really bad that happened, and here’s what we did about it.’ There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to property loss prevention.” sprinklers. They were led to the IFSA by FM Approvals. Now, they compete among the first tier of global manufacturers.”

Regulators: Where the rubber meets the road

Another important way in which FM Approvals shares its product testing standards that support property loss prevention and other resources, is through its interactions and relationships with regulators and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) around the world. "Depending on the part of the world you’re in, an AHJ or regulator tends to be the person or organization that makes the final decision about an installed product,” notes Paris Stavrianidis, FM Approvals general manager. "In the United States it might be the local building inspector or fire chief. In Dubai, it’s an inspector working for the Dubai Civil Defense organization.” In the UAE, for instance, the UAE Department of Civil Defense, under the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for publishing the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice. FM Approvals standards are built into the 2012 edition of the Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice, including Standards 4470 (single-ply roofing), 4471 (panel roofing), 4880 (insulated panels), 4881 (exterior walls), 4990 (firestopping) and 4991 (firestopping contractors).

FM Approvals has worked closely with the UAE Civil Defense for many years and is a recognized UAE Certification Body for a wide range of fire protection products and building systems and components. FM Approvals is authorized to issue the Certificate of Compliance (CoC), a new requirement for manufacturers wishing to market fire and life safety products in the UAE.

The sharing continues

"Sharing what we know and how we came to know it is a much easier conversation than trying to impose a standard on someonebecause we’re FM Approvals—that usu