The surge in new construction in this country has prompted specifiers to evaluate alternative building materials that satisfy a never-ending demand for the timely and economical completion of projects. CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), as an example, is in greater demand than ever before primarily because of its ability to produce a lower installed cost and more reliable, lower maintenance service life. Today, CPVC plumbing and fire sprinkler pipe are found in many commercial applications, including high-rise, hotels/motels, college dorms, hospitals and multi-family housing.

As local, state and national building codes become more stringent, it is important to continually verify material performance, not only from a quality perspective, but also from a safety viewpoint. During its 45-year history of use within the marketplace, CPVC has undergone more testing and has been subject to closer scrutiny than other piping materials with regard to how its use impacts the safety of occupants during a fire.

CPVC pipe is gaining acceptance in the industry and is used today in more applications than ever before, including at the five-star Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, where BlazeMaster CPVC fire sprinkler pipe and fittings were installed as part of a major life safety upgrade initiative.

CPVC Fire Performance

In evaluating more than five decades of U.S. fire incident data, there has been no link shown between CPVC pipe and unusual fire ignition or fire spread. This is not surprising, considering the physical properties of CPVC, which include:

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During a UL 1821 fire test, BlazeMaster CPVC fire sprinkler pipe and fittings are exposed to temperatures in excess of 1,600°F.

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FlowGuard Gold® (tan pipe with a gold stripe) and Corzan® (gray pipe) CPVC water distribution pipe, along with BlazeMaster® (orange pipe) CPVC fire sprinkler pipe, are being used in more commercial applications because they have a record of great performance, and also meet all criteria for installation in a fire-restrictive environment.

Firestopping With CPVC

Major building codes require that a fire-resistive wall or floor be brought back to its original integrity when penetrated. Firestopping is the use of building materials in items such as pipes, ducts, conduits or cables that prevent the spread of flames, heat or hot gases through penetration of fire-rated walls, ceilings or floors. Because firestop products, which through "F"

The Talbott Hotel featured the first installation of BlazeMaster CPVC fire sprinkler pipe and fittings in Chicago after the city revised the building code to allow non-metallic alternatives for fire sprinkler retrofits.

Even if a fire could possibly spread beyond the control of the sprinkler system, the intumescent seal would expand to seal off the area around the pipe-CPVC or metal-to protect the building, its contents and its occupants according to the fire rating for that application. Not only do the sealants perform the same when used in conjunction with CPVC pipe, but they are also applied similarly. The thickness of the sealant depends entirely on the required rating, not the piping material. This is determined by whether the wall is rated for one hour of protection, two, three or four. Note: Compatibility of the firestop system with CPVC must be investigated prior to use.

Waverly at Lake Eola (near Orlando) is an example of a multi-unit residential high-rise that chose to use FlowGuard Gold CPVC pipe and fittings for its water distribution needs because they were faster to install, more economical and more reliable than metallic systems.

Conclusion

The vast amount of research and testing performed on CPVC piping systems over the years demonstrates its excellent performance and suitability for use in fire-resistive construction. Based on all the testing data, as well as more than 45 years of performance in a wide array of demanding applications, it should be concluded that CPVC piping can be used without any additional fire risk concerns.

More important from a life safety standpoint is the fact that the economics of CPVC have allowed the introduction of life-saving fire sprinkler systems into numerous classes of buildings where costs of other piping materials prohibited the installation of such systems.

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