CAN/ULC-S134: A Canadian Fire Safety Standard for Exterior Wall
19 May 2023
Simulates a large-scale fire to evaluate flame propagation
In a recent blog post, our colleague Jason De La Cruz discussed details of the U.S. fire test method NFPA 285 Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Wall AssembliesContaining Combustible Components. In this post, we're going to review a similar test method used in Canada for evaluating fire propagation on the exterior walls of commercial buildings: CAN/ULC-S134 – Standard Method of Fire Test of Exterior Wall Assemblies.
The CAN/ULC-S134 test is mandated by the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) for non-combustible construction. This large-scale test simulates a fire event that starts inside of a multistorey building and spreads through an opening (i.e., a window) onto its exterior to evaluate the fire propagation characteristics on the exterior side of a building. The non-loadbearing wall assemblies evaluated as part of this test standard include all assembly components/details, not just stand-alone materials.
When is CAN/ULC-S134 Required?
The CAN/ULC-S134 test method is required under Article 220.127.116.11 of the NBCC – Combustible Cladding on Exterior Walls, except when the building is:
- Not more than three (3) storeys, or
- More than three (3) storeys and sprinklered throughout
Testing is also required under Article 18.104.22.168 of the NBCC – Combustible Components in Exterior Walls, except when the building is:
- Not more than three (3) storeys, or
- More than three (3) storeys, sprinklered throughout, or
- The combustible components in the exterior wall assembly are protected by masonry or concrete cladding not less than 25 mm thick
When is CAN/ULC-S134 NOT Required?
If there are non-combustible claddings or materials within the exterior walls, then testing per CAN/ULC- S134 is not required. Materials must meet the "non-combustible" definition as set forth by the NBCC and meet the requirements of CAN/ULC-S114 in order to be deemed non-combustible. Alternatively, a combustible material is permitted for use in non-combustible construction if it's tested to CAN/ULC-S135 and meets the requirements of Sentence 22.214.171.124 (2).
CAN/ULC-S134 Certification Overview
There are four steps involved with obtaining certification to the CAN/ULC-S134 standard:
Step 1: Engineering Review – during this step information is gathered on component, design, and assembly variations. The goal is to allow for reduced testing for proposed variations using fire engineering principles. A testing and certification plan is prepared, reviewed, and agreed upon prior to testing to ensure that the testing is as encompassing as possible.
Step 2: Pretest Sampling – during this step, an engineer visits the facility to collect test specimens. This ensures traceable information on the product to be certified and that the product will continue to be manufactured in the same manner for as long as it's certified.
Step 3: Testing & Reporting – testing is completed in accordance with the test plan and is typically witnessed by client and/or fire consultants. As a final step, the test report is prepared.
Step 4: Certification – As part of the CAN/ULC-S134 certification program, a Design Listing is created. This document includes a drawing or illustration of the wall assembly that was tested to identify all of the individual components and allowable variations and their installation details. This is only available under Intertek's certification program. As the final step, a Listing Report is the prepared and published on Intertek's online directory of certified products (https://bpdirectory.intertek.com/). The certified product will be subjected to bi-annual inspections, and ongoing verification tests if applicable, in order for the Listing to be maintained.
This is just a brief overview of the CAN/ULC-S134 test program. For a more in-depth look at the standard and testing apparatus, watch our on-demand webinar: CAN/ULC-S134 Combustible Components in Non-combustible Construction.