Only a handful of fire laboratories in Europe are certified to conduct tests in accordance with UL standards. DBI is one of them. It is a quick and easy admission ticket to the American market.
Would you like to enter the American market or supply building components to facilities owned by the US government, but which are located outside of the United States? If so, then prepare to ship your components to the US to have them fire-tested.
This was hitherto the reality for Danish and other European manufacturers that hoped to enter the US market. Today, however, the costly trip across the Atlantic can be avoided, as it is now possible to fire-test products within Europe at DBI – in accordance with standards set by UL, an American certification company.
– There are several American companies whose certifications grant full access to the American market. But UL’s is the right one to go with, says Trine Dalsgaard Jensen, a civil engineer at DBI’s fire laboratory.
In addition to being one of the most widely recognised of its kind, the UL certification provides access to regions outside of the US, such as to the Middle East.
– There are also many American-owned companies, such as Intel, that require their buildings in all countries to be constructed of products that are UL-listed, says Chris Miles, who is the acting business manager for UL in Europe.
Testing and laboratory requirements
The tests are conducted at DBI’s fire laboratory and are normally monitored by a UL employee, who ensures that the requirements for UL certification are met.
– We ensure that the process in the testing phase complies with UL standards, and that the sampling, monitoring and other matters are carried out as they should be. We also subject the results to an approval process and issue any applicable certification, Chris explains.
In most cases, one way in which testing conducted in accordance with the UL standard sets itself apart from EU standards is by requiring a different type of measurement equipment.
– The rejection criteria are often different, too. Furthermore, the laboratory in which the testing is carried out must meet a number of requirements. We set requirements regarding quality control, the personnel and facilities before conducting any tests, Chris points out.
The facilities are particularly important in this regard. For example, following an ordinary barrier test in which a component is subjected to the effects of fire, the UL standard also calls for a subsequent hose stream test, which examines the effects of high-pressure water streams on the component.
– DBI is one of the very few labs in Europe that has the facilities and equipment to carry out such testing, Chris says.
Experience with sharp requirements
The hose stream test is most likely also one of the elements that are new to many clients.
– Some may see it as a strange and sharp requirement. Many constructions risk becoming damaged, and even the welds can come undone when they are quickly cooled by the water. The water pressure itself can also damage the construction. But we have experience from the marine area with the hose stream test, and we can advise our clients based on their own products, as well as on our knowledge of the rules and the strains of the test, Trine explains.
Simultaneous testing for the EU and US
Even though some areas are different between the UL and EU testing standards, there are also many similarities.
– Within some product areas, it will be possible in the foreseeable future to approve products for both the EU and US with just one testing phase. This is already possible for doors and ducts. We’re not quite there for all other products, though, says Trine, who concludes:
– But even though two different rounds of testing are needed to obtain both certifications, it’s still easier and cheaper to go with DBI than sending components to the US to be tested.
… stands for Underwriters Laboratories. The company is the leading certification authority in the North America and has some 11,000 employees in 46 countries. The company tests and certifies almost all product areas, from wireless money transactions to drinking water and fire safety. The company is one among a handful of companies in the US that may develop standards which are referred to in official American building codes.
Christ Miles, business manager for UL in Europe, and Mette Winther Pedersen, managing director for UL International Demko, attend a meeting at DBI. In order to receive UL certification, the testing sequence must be observed by a UL employee, who ensures that all requirements are met.