Decorative Materials at Prom

The high school has requested to decorate the gym and other areas of the school building for the upcoming prom. They will be using combustible decorative materials and will be restricted under OFC 807.1.2; specifically, materials “meeting the flame propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701…” The bureau’s past interpretation of code has also allowed decorative materials to be approved for use with the NFPA 705 Field Flame Test.

On analysis of the code the following sections come to my attention: 1.1.2 (there is no known correlation between NFPA 701 and NFPA 705), (only two types of materials produce totally adequate results, those that are entirely noncombustible inorganic material (PASS) and those that ignite and burn readily (FAIL)), (other than the two previously mentioned situations field tests vary in degree of reliability), 5.1 (field testing can lead to misleading or erroneous results), and 5.2 (field tests should not be relied on as sole means of testing). Further, in Annex A.4.1 example (1), the code references a dance in a school gymnasium, decorated by students, and refers to field testing being conducted on decorative material.

This leads me to believe that although the testing method established by NFPA 701 is limited and not always reliable, it may still be applied to decorations for prom at the discretion of the code enforcement official. Does NFPA 705 apply to decorative material to be used during the prom? Any thoughts or suggestions?

Dave Stump
Bay Village Fire Dept.
[email protected]