A fire laboratory assesses the performance of a product by testing according to a test method (notably the European test standard). Based on different measurements (e.g., temperature, radiating heat flux, etc.) but also from observations, the fire laboratory will provide the fire performance based on criteria and thresholds given in the test standard. The description of the product, the measured values, and the resulting fire performance are given by the laboratory in a fire test report.
Based on test reports, the fire laboratory issues a European classification report or national approval according to the rules specified in the classification standards.
Some National Accreditation Bodies agreed to accredit according to ExAp1 (extending the field of application) and classification standards2, however some didn’t.
ExAp application is not a test standard and is not a product standard. This was therefore discussed in relation to which is the most relevant accreditation standard covering the technical aspect of the ExAp standard. Many fire laboratories accredited according to EN ISO/IEC 17025 are also accredited as certification bodies according to EN ISO/IEC 17065. However, there are fire laboratories accredited to only EN ISO/IEC 17025 and Notified Bodies accredited only to EN ISO/IEC 17065.
EGOLF (the European Group of Organisations for Fire Testing, Inspection, and Certification) decided to support accreditation to EN ISO/IEC 17025 but asked for a common approach. As part of its harmonization mission, the EA Laboratory Committee (EA LC) established a new Task Force Group to clarify the situation.
The EA LC agreed that each laboratory can apply to be accredited by its National Accreditation Body for both Fire Classification & ExAp standards using ISO/IEC 17025 requirements on Opinions & Interpretations.
This represents a step towards harmonization (even if a NAB may decide not to develop such an activity).
EGOLF welcomed this approach as an excellent starting point since some laboratories did not previously have the possibility of accreditation for Fire classification and ExAps.
Thanks to the EA LC TFG, the way for laboratories to apply for accreditation to EN ISO/IEC 17025 and to perform assessments is now understandable and simplified.
1 In the fire testing field, you cannot test any size or characteristics of a certain product. The DiAp (Direct Field of application) given in each European test standard allows application scope directly from the fire test. The DiAp depends on the product properties and/or intended end-use applications (e.g., the size of the door leaf).
It is assumed that the same test results will be obtained if we test the item with minor differences in shape, dimension, etc.
ExAp means Extended field of Application. ExAp rules are also specified in the European standard called the ExAp standard. ExAP allows a larger application domain than DiAp.
This larger domain is accepted based on additional information. This information may come from additional tests, additional measurements during the test, and specific calculations. Those are defined in the ExAp standard (the application of these rules requires knowledge of tests standards and interrelation of the ExAp standards).
2 The classification standards define the criteria and threshold for defining the performance classification of the fire product. The input for the Fire Classification report is the test reports (including the DiAp) and ExAp reports. The existing classes are defined at the European level allowing the circulation of products. The level of performance required for a building is defined by Member states.