Are FR Ratings Necessary?
Our expert, Randall Whitehead, IALD, gives readers the real deal on FR-rated custom lighting.
 
We get varied requests from hospitality and contract designers for materials in custom fabrications to be FR (fire retardant) rated. We comply and find materials that meet FR criteria, but it is usually more costly. I have never gotten a clear answer from anyone as to why they need it. The fixtures meet UL requirements (which don’t require FR rating on the shade diffuser materials) and as far as I know the National Building Code defers to UL for construction of decorative lighting fixtures. I don’t think the NFPA covers decorative fixtures either, specifically. I don’t think decorative lighting fixtures are covered the same way draperies or furniture are in this area. I understand a designer’s inclination to cover all bases and request it, but I have yet to have anyone be able to point to a specific code requirement calling for any kind of rating. Plus, there are different rating systems for different purposes. There is NFPA 701 for fabric and UL 94 for plastics. They test for different things, too: flame spread, smoke spread, self-extinguishing. Do you have any thoughts on this? We can build them that way, but sometimes it is unnecessarily costly for our clients.
Okay, you win the award for the lengthiest query in the history of this column. I needed a meal break halfway through the questions. It seems to me that if UL passes a fixture, the chance of fire is not an issue. This is what they test for, among other things. I have tried to research your concern and have come up empty as far as a specific code. Here’s what I recommend: State that your fixtures meet all UL requirements, including flammability. My guess is that the designers are covering all of their bases and are used to specifying FR fabrics for wallcoverings, floorcoverings and upholstery. Does anyone else out there have a more definitive answer?
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

Leave A Comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Latest from ask randall

I would find a nice large pendant to go over the dining room table that complements the fixtures in the kitchen, but doesn’t match them. If you have... read full story
If the fixtures all are at low output, you may have the incorrect voltage of lamps. Check and see if you have 24V lamps instead of 12V (the boxes... read full story
For me, and most of the lighting industry, fluorescents are no longer a part of the equation. They have never had a high enough CRI. Their quality of... read full story
Accent lighting is used to highlight specific objects, adding depth and dimension to an environment. Recessed adjustable fixtures, track lights,... read full story

Webinars

Sponsored by Legrand and Bulbrite.  Wednesday, October 5 at 2 p.m. EDT Register for this free CEU webinar here. Webinar Overview:Learning units:AIA/CES LU (HSW) 1.0... read full story
This webinar has already taken place, but you can still watch it on demand by registering here. Sponsored by Emerson and Legrand. Webinar Overview: Learning units:AIA/... read full story
This webinar has already taken place, but you can still watch it on demand by registering here. Webinar Overview:Learning units:AIA/CES LU (HSW) 1.0 Learning UnitIDCEC (IIDA/... read full story

RL Tweets!

E-mail Subscriptions