What Are Fire Protective Coatings?
Protecting people in a building where a fire is raging is hard. Which is why fire protection is ‘baked in’ to the design of new buildings. In England all new builds, refurbishments or extensions – regardless of whether they’re domestic or non-domestic, must adhere to The Building Regulations 2010, Approved Document B. This covers the requirement for structural fire resistance and the use of fire stopping, or fire protective coatings:
“every joint or imperfection of fit, or opening to allow services to pass through the element, should be adequately protected by sealing or fire stopping so that the fire resistance of the element is not impaired.”
What are Fire Protective Coatings?
These take the form of spray or paint that is applied for one of two reasons:
- Fire Stopping. Protective coatings can be used to seal gaps for holes in walls that have been created for cabling or utilities. Until every aperture is sealed, no matter how small, an area is not considered fire-protected.
- Thermal Insulation. As well as containing fire, smoke and toxic gases, fire protection acts to protect the structural integrity of the building. Intumescent protective coatings serve as thermal insulation to protect buildings with steel frames.
Fire protective coatings are classed as part of passive fire protection solutions, and can be divided into reactive and non-reactive products.
Reactive Fire Protective Coatings
Intumescent paint swells in response to heat exposure to many times its original thickness. A char is created by numerous small bubbles that serves as insulation to protect the surface underneath. The purpose of this swelling is to prevent steel elements from reaching a critical state and threatening building collapse. The critical temperature of steel is between 500 °C and 620 °C.
Two further benefits intumescent paint provides are, first, its ability to close gaps around pipework in the event of a fire, and second, its aesthetic appeal. The product is available in a range of attractive colours which enhance the look of the environment as well as increasing its fire protection.
Non-Reactive Fire Protective Coatings
Non-reactive coatings comprise materials like gypsum or vermiculite that have a high melting point. They’re normally applied as a spray, and the depth of the coating determines how long it will remain fire-resistant for.
In addition to offering effective fire protection, cementitious coatings also provide a level of thermal and acoustic insulation. They tend to be used in environments such as railway and road tunnels where there is a risk of hydrocarbon or jet fires.
Working With Wallace Fire Protection
We are a long-standing provider of bespoke passive fire protection solutions to the construction industry, the commercial sector, utilities and critical infrastructure. Wallace Fire Protection takes pride in being a licensed and approved installer of Promat DURASTEEL® fire barriers, blast protection and fire protective coatings.
The team at Wallace Fire Protection provides clients with full-service passive fire protection design and installation. We focus on quality and responsiveness from the tender stage through to contract completion. All operatives hold industry relevant certificates including BESC, Person Training, Substation Entry and Confined Spaces.