Nona Peterson – 10-2-2023
What is Independent Third Party Testing for Products?
To assure that building products are meeting performance and safety standards, many are tested or evaluated
by independent third party organizations also known as Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories
(NRTL) such as Intertek, UL Solutions (UL), FM Approvals (FM) and QAI Laboratories (QAI). Those
organizations among others, are accredited by International Accreditation Service (IAS) which evaluates
and recognizes that testing methods are based on recognized national and international standards and
Why Do I Need Third Party Testing?
Selecting products that have a certification, assures both
you and code officials that the product will perform
to the standards for which it was designed and
tested. An example is a fire-rated floor door which
is designed to withstand heat for a specified period
when exposed to fire. When installed in a fire-rated
horizontal surface, the door will maintain the integrity
of the floor during a fire, isolating the fire on one
side, and protecting occupants in adjacent rooms
from heat. Another example is fire-rated glass which
is tested to standards for fire-door assemblies to
compartmentalize smoke and flames.
What is the Difference of Certification Between these Third Party Organizations?
When it comes to product certification, there is no difference. If a product is tested to the industry standards
for it’s type, all of these accredited companies test to the same standards. After the product passes
the testing, then the NRTL will work with the manufacturer to properly label the product per industry
standards, and visit their production facility periodically, to assure that the product is being fabricated and
How Will I Know if a Product has a Third Party Certification?
Manufacturers who have their products tested and certified do so to comply with building code standards.
Product documentation will have information about certification, so that it is easy to see what standards
it meets, and products can be compared with each other. In addition, all fire-rated products and some in
other categories are required to be clearly labelled. The label may be inside the product, on the back, or
may be stamped or etched into the product for easy identification.
The NRTLs that Most Commonly Certify Activar Construction Products, Inc. Product Types
UL is a third-party certification company that’s been around for over a century. They test and certify products in many building product categories and assist with regulatory and environmental
compliance. Accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI),
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Standards Council of Canada (SCC)
and is accredited to develop Standards for Canada (ULC).
US, Canada and International: https://www.ul.com/
Intertek provides testing, inspecting and product certification. Since 1927, when the Chas
Warnock Company was founded to inspect steel products, Intertek has been performance
testing building products including acoustical, structural, fire-resistance, hurricane, thermal
performance, threat-resistance and weathering. Accredited by the American National
Standards Institute (ANSI), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the
Standards Council of Canada (SCC).
US, Canada and International: https://www.intertek.com/
Founded in 1995 by a group of experienced certification and testing experts, QAI evaluates
products to show compliance to the appropriate methods both in the lab and field. QAI
helps manufacturers plan to meet code requirements and test standards for their products
and offers testing and certification of interior and exterior building products in many categories
including fire-rating. QAI is accredited by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration
(OSHA), Standards Council of Canada (SCC), and is also recognized by the Canadian
Construction Materials Centre (CCMC).
US, Canada and International: https://qai.org/
FM is an international third-party testing and certification company for property loss prevention
products. FM was founded in 1886 as Factory Mutual Laboratories. Products in Activar
Construction Products categories include specialty fire extinguishers, automatic smoke
vents and hose racks/reels. Accredited by Occupational Health and Safety Administration
(OSHA), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of
US, Canada and International: https://www.approvalguide.com/
Building Code Development and Why It Matters
Building codes have been developed over many years, and draw on experiences such as the Triangle Shirtwaist
Factory fire of 1911, to set minimum standards for different types of buildings and their components.
As a result of the loss of 146 workers in that fire, codes have been put into place for exit signs, fire sprinklers,
fire alarms, doors that swing in the direction of travel, working fire hoses, stairway size restrictions and periodic
fire inspections. This has directly led to safer buildings and undoubtedly saved many lives.
Building inspectors rely on accredited products with certification labeling to assure that they conform to
applicable standards and that the manufacturer is subject to a program of ongoing factory inspections.