Structural Fire Protection for Steel Frame Buildings

Over recent decades the UK has seen sharp growth in the popularity of steel frame construction. Steel provides a range of benefits to both architects and the construction industry. These include a reduced build schedule, leading to enhanced cost-effectiveness, and increased design flexibility. The fact that 70% of multi-storey buildings are now constructed using steel, underlines the impact steel frame buildings are having across the UK.

Wallace Fire Protection designers and installers regularly create structural fire protection for steel frame buildings. No matter the complexity, or function of the building, our standard is always the same. Fire protection is required to guarantee that, in the event of a fire, the structural integrity of the building will be maintained until all occupants have evacuated, and fire containment measures are on site and operational.


3 Structural Fire Protection Options

Passive structural fire protection is paramount in order to ensure optimum building safety outcomes. Passive fire protection is defined as the ways in which a building is protected, in case of fire, requiring no manual activation. Active fire protection is also necessary, in the form of sprinklers, or manual extinguishers.

Dunbar Wallace has selected 3 structural fire protection options, most commonly used for steel frame constructions.

1. Intumescent Coating

Steel has a critical failure point between 550-620ºC. Once this temperature is reached steel will begin to buckle, increasing the risk of collapse. Intumescent coatings are designed to keep the temperature of a steel structure below the critical failure point. In the event of fire, intumescent coating will quickly expand to around 50 times its original thickness. This creates an effective insulating layer that protects the structure of a building.

2. Fire Resistant Panels

This is the most popular structural fire protection approach. Fire resistant panels are normally gypsum-based, or calcium silicate, and they encase the steel structure of the building to protect it in case of fire. Once in place, the panels will look like a normal wall and can be finished to integrate with the building’s branding. In the event of fire, these panels will protect the steel structure, and stop the spread of smoke or flames for a specified period between 30-240 minutes.

3. Cementitious Spray

Cementitious spray, using either gypsum or concrete, continues to be used for non-visible steelwork. The reason for its ongoing application comes down to price. It is cheaper than the other two options, and there is no additional cost for increased temporal fire safety. The disadvantage of cementitious coatings is that they require areas to be sealed off in order to apply the wet coating.


About Wallace Fire Protection Ltd

As buildings become more complex, each new structure requires bespoke structural fire protection to ensure it meets the requisite standards. Wallace is a specialist contractor providing clients across the UK with structural fire protection design and installation. We are a licensed and approved installer of Promat DURASTEEL®.


Would you like to know more about the fire protection work Wallace offers? Call our specialist team today on 01908 109045