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Exterior wall fires on a global scale
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It has been a little over a year since the notable exterior wall fire at The Address Downtown Dubai hotel. This hotel is located in the area of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, where thousands came to enjoy the 2016 New Year’s celebration and fireworks display. While the challenge of exterior wall fires was already a global concern, this event garnered even greater worldwide attention to these frightening events.

Since that time, other building fire events, along with plans for new tall wood building construction, have continued to drive discussion and debate over the issue of rapid fire progression on exterior wall construction materials. To better understand the exterior wall flammability issue, and move towards solutions, this article will: 1) Discuss the factors that influence building construction related to these types of fires, 2) Provide an understanding of certain fire tests that are sometimes misconstrued as suitable for the evaluation of exterior walls, and 3) Examine the importance of selecting tests for specific regions, codes, and regulations. We will also discuss a third party certification approach used by UL, and some upcoming research activities in this area.

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