Hot Topic: Wall Pad Fire Safety

Wall pads are designed to keep kids safe, but if the incorrect pads are installed they can do the opposite in an emergency situation. Many wall pads are highly flammable, do not pass proper fire codes, and are installed right near emergency exists- making them a hazard during an emergency that could block an exit to safety.  Both safe and unsafe pads can look identical making them more dangerous.

Most jurisdictions adopt one of two major codes (NFPA 101 Life Safety Code or the International Building Code).  If a local jurisdiction adopts a lesser code, they still may be required to meet additional code requirements if the state adopts a stricter code.  The NFPA 101 Life Safety Code currently requires all wall pads in new and existing facilities to pass the fire test set out by NFPA 286, which is designed to test wall pads in the manner in which they are installed.  Similarly, the International Building Code requires newly constructed building projects and building alterations/additions to comply with NFPA 286.  Other tests such as ASTM E-84 don’t test the materials in the manner in which they will be installed and are not considered equal and do not pertain to wall pads.  If you are unsure of what fire code pertains to your building, ask your local fire marshal.  Learn more about wall pad codes and compliances here. 

Want to see the difference between a fire-rated pad and a non-rated pad?  Check out this comparison video below:

Since many wall pads don’t have any fire rating to them at all and others have the incorrect fire rating, how do you check?  Unfortunately, many wall pads look and feel the same so it is very difficult to tell.  Here are three different options to ensure you have safe wall pads that are code compliant:

  1. The easiest way is to ask the manufacturer to provide a certificate from an independent lab, stating that the pads installed at your facility have been tested and passes the NFPA286 test.  (Make sure the documents provided are for the pad assembly, not individual material components.)  You will then have the documents on file that you would need for a fire inspection.  Contact your sales rep, contractor, or architect if you are unsure who the manufacturer is.
  1. If you know the manufacturer and model, you may find the proper information on the manufacturer website or you can also contact with that information and they will help you determine if your pad meets the correct certifications.
  1. Contact your local Architectural Sales and Service dealer by entering your zip code here and set up an appointment for a rep to come out and inspect your padding.  The rep may have to take down a pad and pull back vinyl, depending on the pad and installation method.

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