Drop-Out Ceiling Panels beneath Sprinklers

Ceilume's approved drop-out ceiling panels can be installed beneath fire sprinklers. When exposed to heat from a developing fire, drop-out ceiling panels soften, distort, and fall from the ceiling grid. Heat from the growing fire activates the sprinkler which, unimpeded by the panels, controls or extinguishes the fire.

Drop-out ceilings have several significant advantages:

  1. They offer a visually uncluttered appearance.
  2. They provide protection for the sprinklers - making them less prone to accidental knocks, tampering, and the potential water damage that can result.
  3. They simplify sprinkler design at clouds and other design features as the sprinklers are located above the dropped ceiling.
  4. They're cost effective as they eliminate the need to "drop" (lower) the sprinklers, make sprinkler positioning simple so installers only make one trip instead of two, allow for the use of less costly, non-appearance grade sprinklers, and eliminate the need for trim rings/escutcheons.

Consult with your local building/fire officials to make sure that your intended use will conform with the appropriate local codes.

Evaluations

Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc.

Drop-Out Ceiling Panels - A Discussion on Their Use with Fire Sprinklers

This White Paper is intended to be used as an introduction to those considering the use of drop-out ceiling panels, sometimes referred to as tiles. They have many useful applications and their "drop-out" feature from a standard T-bar ceiling grid offers advantages over the commonly used acoustic ceiling tile. They are especially useful when used with fire sprinklers. This paper is a resource and is intended to educate potential users as to the best applications for drop-out panels. It is not intended to be a substitute for checking the applicable listings, codes and standards and encourages users to consult with their authorities having jurisdiction (building officials, fire code officials and in some instances, insurers).

For more information, please Download the Drop-Out Ceiling Panels - A Discussion on Their Use with Fire Sprinklers.

Jensen Hughes, Inc.

Analysis Concerning the Use of Drop-Out Ceiling Panels and NFPA 13

Ceilume ceiling panels listed by either UL LLC and/or FM Approvals meet the requirements of NFPA 13 for use as drop-out ceiling panels installed below ceiling sprinklers.

For more information, please Download the Analysis Concerning the Use of Drop-Out Ceiling Tiles and NFPA 13.

Code Recognitions, Listings, and Approvals

International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)

Summary of report is shown below. For full text, please Download Evaluation Report 0310.

1.0 Scope of Evaluation

  • 1.1 Compliance to the following codes and regulations:

    2012, 2009, and 2006 International Building Code® (IBC).

  • 1.2 Evaluated in accordance with:

    ICC-ES ACC 12, approved June 2012

  • 1.3 Properties assessed:

    • Interior finish classification
    • Thermal stability
    • Physical properties

2.0 Product Use

Ceilume Ceiling Tiles are Class A interior finish lay-in panels for use in approved suspended ceiling framing systems in non-fire-resistance-rated floor-ceiling or roof-ceiling assemblies. The panels comply with Section 803 of the 2012, 2009, and 2006 IBC.

4.0 Design and Installation

  • 4.6 Installation with ceiling sprinklers above ceiling tiles - concealed sprinklers - full ceiling:

    Panels, both 0.013 (0.33 mm) and 0.03 (0.76 mm) thickness, may be installed by themselves throughout the ceiling below sprinkler heads, pursuant to sections 5.3 through 5.15 of this report.

FM Global

Summary of report is shown below. For full text, please Download Approval Class 4651.

0.013" thick ceilling panels are designed to be heat sensitive, promptly moving out of their setting, and will not significantly interfere with the operation of automatic sprinklers located above. When other building components and occupancy do not require sprinkler protection, these products may be used without creating such a need.

CertMark International

Summary of report is shown below. For full text, please Download Evaluation Report CER-3101.

1.0 Evaluation Scope

  • 1.1 Compliance with the following codes:

    2012, 2009, and 2006 International Building Code® (IBC).

    Properties evaluated:

    • Interior finish classification
    • Thermal stability
    • Physical properties

5.0 Ceiling Tiles beneath Sprinklers

Ceilume Ceiling Tiles are recognized for use as drop-out ceiling panels beneath sprinklers in concealed sprinkler installations, subject to the authorities having jurisdiction.

Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.® (UL)

Summary of report is shown below. For full text, please Download File Number R4036.

0.013" thick ceiling panels in Premiere colors may be used beneath Standard Response (SR) sprinkler systems rated with an activation temperature of 165°F or above, where allowed by local fire safety authorities.


Cost of Ceilume Thermoformed Ceiling Panels Compared to Mineral Fiber Ceiling Panels in Fire-Sprinklered Office Building

By Bill Kneeland, PE and Michael Chusid, RA

Investigation 1
Investigation 1: Ceilume panels are 0.013" thick Polyline style installed beneath sprinklers. Mineral fiber panels are 5/8" thick square-edge, fissured panels equal to Armstrong 755 installed with recessed sprinklers. Both are 2' x 4'. and white.

Investigation 2
Investigation 2: Ceilume panels are 0.013" thick Polyline style installed beneath sprinklers. Mineral fiber panels are 3/4" thick regular tegular panels equal to Armstrong 577 Cirrus installed with recessed sprinklers. Both are 2' x 2' and white.

A thermoformed drop-out ceiling panel has recently been tested and approved for installation beneath fire sprinklers. Until now, drop-out ceiling products have had limited performance and visual appeal. In contrast, the thermoplastic panels, made by Ceilume, look great and meet performance requirements for commercial, institutional, residential, and other architectural projects.

Ceilume's panels are made of rigid vinyl either 0.013 or 0.030 inches thick and can be installed in standard 15/16" T-bar ceiling grid. When exposed to fire, the thermoplastic softens, sags, and drops-out of the grid at a temperature below that required to activate sprinklers. Sprinklers can then operate unimpeded to extinguish fire. Drop-out ceiling panels are allowed under NFPA 13 - Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, and Ceilume's panels have been approved by UL, FM, Certmark, IAPMO-UES, and other building evaluation services.

When drop-out ceiling panels were proposed for an 110,000 sq.ft. office building in Oklahoma City, we were asked to prepare a detailed construction cost estimate comparing thermoformed and mineral-fiber ceiling panels. In particular, our client wanted to know how Ceilume's panels affect total project costs including sprinkler design and installation. We found that Ceilume panels installed beneath sprinklers are significantly less expensive than mineral fiber panels with penetrating sprinklers.

Cost Savings

We investigated two scenarios and found that the Ceilume approach generated savings ranging from $3.29 to $0.72 per sq. ft. The first value represents 2 x 2 ft. panels and compares Ceilume to 3/4" thick tegular mineral fiber panels; the second value represents 2 ft. x 4 ft. panels and compares Ceilume to standard 1/2" thick mineral fiber panels.

Click here to read the entire report.

Guiding Principle No. 5 - Be humorous. Even ceiling tiles can be entertaining.