Structural Fire Protection Materials
SOLAS or CFR Standards
Structural fire protection materials may be submitted for approval
under two different regulatory standards: 1) Safety of Life at
(SOLAS) or 2) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The structural
protection material approved under SOLAS standards may be used on U.S.
vessels going on either international or domestic voyages. Those
materials approved to the standards in 46 CFR are restricted for use on
U.S. flag vessels
that only operate on domestic voyages. While the two systems
use different test standards, the tests must be performed by an
acceptable to the U.S. Coast Guard for
those tests. If the material meets the appropriate test criteria
and follow-up services to the satisfaction of the Coast Guard, the
manufacturer will be provided with a Certificate of Approval; the
approval will also be listed on the Coast Guard’s Approved Equipment
website which is updated on a weekly basis:
This information is used by
shipyards and others in specifying/selecting approved materials for
ship construction. See DOMESTIC STRUCTURAL FIRE PROTECTION
MATERIALS or INTERNATIONAL STRUCTURAL FIRE PROTECTION MATERIALS for
more information and how to receive approval of structural fire
protection material under the two regulatory standards.
In addition, there are fire protection materials and arrangements that
are not specifically covered by the CFR or SOLAS, but do have to meet a
safety standard to be installed on board a Coast Guard inspected
vessel. See RELATED FIRE PROTECTION MATERIALS for more
information on this.
Navigation and Vessels Inspection
The Coast Guard periodically issues NVICs. These documents, while
not regulations themselves, are intended to explain the regulations and
provide guidance as well as examples of accepted constructions.
NVIC 9-97 (replaces NVIC 6-80) explains the Coast Guard’s structural
fire protection program in greater detail.
RELATED FIRE PROTECTION MATERIALS
materials do not have approval numbers, and are not covered by the Mutual Recognition Agreement.
The CFRs contain no performance
requirements for acoustic and thermal (i.e. comfort) insulation.
However, all acoustic and thermal insulation materials must meet the
applicable fire safety requirements such as non combustibility.
Aluminum bulkheads and decks can generally
be insulated to A-60 by using materials tested and approved for steel
bulkheads and decks. The procedure is explained in Technical and
Research Bulletin 2-21, entitled "Aluminum Fire Protection Guidelines,"
published by The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
(SNAME), 601 Pavonia Ave. Jersey City, NJ 07306. Also, NVIC 9-97
provides a summary of Coast Guard requirements. However, some
specific materials and designs such as sprayed fiber insulation and
continuous ceilings can not be used with aluminum unless specifically
tested and approved for use with aluminum construction. SNAME
Bulletin 2-21 can not be used to calculate aluminum construction for
Instead, the aluminum constructions must be tested to IMO Res. A.
Although neither Title 46 of the CFRs or SOLAS treaty specifically
the U. S. Coast Guard does not approve structural fire protection
materials containing asbestos fibers.
The Code of Federal Regulations permits the use
of unapproved deck leveling and finishing material which do not exceed
3/8 inch (9.5 mm) in thickness. SOLAS does not contain this
Under the CFR, these must be approved either as
under 164.006, or as noncombustible materials under 164.009.
Under SOLAS, they must meet the IMO Fire Test Procedures (FTP Code).
The Coast Guard does not have a
program of type approving complete accommodation systems for fire
safety. Instead, the various structural fire protection elements
(bulkhead panels, ceiling, insulation, etc.) of which the system is
constructed are approved separately under their individual approval
categories. This subject is not currently addressed in the FTP
: The U. S. Coast Guard does not issue
type approval for noncombustible ceilings and other C Class partitions
because C-Class partitions are not required to be tested for fire
resistance. The only
requirement is that ceilings must be constructed of approved
A recent IMO interpretation permits
light-weight construction such as honeycomb panels of steel or
equivalent material to be used as non load-bearing internal "A" class
division in accommodation and service spaces provided they have been
tested to the FTP Code criteria for a one hour period. These
panels are constructed of thin metal sheets bonded to an insulated core
material and do not have a 4-mm steel core plate. The use of
lightweight construction cannot be used as an integral part of main
fire zone bulkheads and stairway enclosures on passenger ships.
The CFR permits a limited number of coats of standard paint are
requiring tests or approval. Nitrocellulose or other highly flammable
or noxious fume-producing paints or lacquers are prohibited. The
SOLAS treaty requires paint in certain spaces to meet low flammability,
smoke, and toxicity criteria.