Part 5 Interior Finish


Several of the fires listed in Part I were a result of unapproved interior finish inside the nightclub.  The Florida Fire Prevention Code has specific requirements for interior finish (wall, ceiling, and floor) in assembly occupancies.  Existing nightclubs or bar lounges must comply with interior finish requirements as stated in NFPA 101, Chapter 13.  New nightclubs constructed or renovated as of January 1, 2009, have to comply with the interior finish requirements in Chapter 12.

Interior finish is the exposed surfaces of walls, ceilings, and floors within buildings.  Fire testing of materials is conducted for the purpose of evaluating flame spread and smoke development characteristics.  Interior finish must comply with NFPA 101 and must be classified as Class A, B, or C depending on the location in the nightclub.  The classification of the interior finish shall be that of the basic material used by itself or in combination with other materials when installed in combination.

Furnishings, Decorations, and Scenery are also regulated to ensure limited flame spread in an assembly occupancy.  Fabrics and films used for decorative purposes, all draperies and curtains, and similar furnishings shall be in accordance with NFPA 101.

In some cases, the required flame spread or smoke development classification of existing surfaces of wall, partitions, columns and ceilings may be achieved by applying approved fire-retardant coatings.  Such treatment must be applied by an approved third party company and the product used shall be tested, listed and labeled for application to the material to which they are applied.  In other words, the treatment product must be approved for the specific material being treated; that is, not all materials can be treated.  Fire-retardant coatings shall possess the desired degree of permanency and shall be maintained so as to retain the effectiveness of the treatment under the service conditions encountered in actual use.

It is the owner’s responsibility to maintain the interior finish as approved.  Some changes to the interior finish may require a building permit depending on the extent of the work.  However, any change, regardless of how minor, to the interior finish materials does require approval by the Fire Marshal’s office.  This includes seasonal decorations for Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, etc.

Controls based on flame spread characteristics; evaluation of existing interior finish is sometimes difficult.  Where flame spread characteristics cannot be readily determined, the questionable material should be removed or treated with approved flame retardants.  Where treatment cannot reduce flame spread to the required limits, material should be removed.

The purpose of interior finish requirements is to slow the flame spread across these surfaces and minimize smoke generation in order to allow additional time for occupants to relocate or evacuate the building.