Fire protection is a top concern for business owners and facility managers. Despite advanced fire detection technology and suppression systems, a non-residential fire breaks out approximately every six minutes in the United States. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 110,900 nonresidential building fires in 2019, resulting in 100 deaths and over $2 billion dollars in property loss.
Preventive Fire Protection Measures
While active fire protection like sprinklers and fire extinguishers help control a fire once it has begun, passive fire protection measures can help minimize or suppress a fire. Passive fire protection includes the application of fireproof coatings that help protect steel structures from collapse in the event of a fire.
Although structural steel is not flammable, in the event of a fire, steel starts to lose its strength. At 1,000 degrees, steel can lose up to 40% of its strength. At 1,500 degrees, steel loses up to 90% of its strength. Since the average building fire reaches temperatures of 1,500-2,000 degrees, failure to adequately fireproof structural steel can lead to a total building collapse.
What Are Fireproof Coatings?
Fireproof coatings offer an additional layer of protection to hospitals, schools, restaurants, shopping malls, manufacturing facilities, and other commercial buildings. When properly applied, these coatings allow time for occupants to evacuate and for the fire to be extinguished at the source before major structural damage occurs.
Fireproof coatings consist of non-combustible chemicals and are applied in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. They are designed to:
- Slow or stop the spread of a fire
- Reduce a fire’s intensity
- Reduce the smoke a fire produces
In the United States, both the International Building Codes (IBC) and the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101) provide criteria for proper fire protection. Fireproof coatings are often required to meet local building code requirements and to qualify for insurance coverage. Fireproof coatings ensure a building keeps its structural integrity in the event of a fire, allowing people time to escape and minimizing property damage.
Intumescent Fireproof Coatings
Depending on the coating product used, the level of protection offered may vary. Every type of coating is tested and given a flame-spread rating, which signifies the level of protection it provides. Local building codes dictate what level of protection is required for different types of facilities. Facilities that deal with combustible materials, high temperatures, and open flames require additional fire protection measures.
When a fire emergency occurs, regular paint offers no defense from flames. In order to provide any measure of protection, special paint that resists flames is necessary. Intumescent paint is a key asset for passive fire protection. Specialized intumescent coatings are commonly used in petrochemical facilities, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, hotels, hospitals, and schools.
Intumescent basically means “swelling”. When intumescent paint is heated by flame, it swells dramatically into an insulating barrier to protect the material it covers from heat. Intumescent coatings are typically used as a finish on exposed structural steel. These coatings look like a thin layer of paint and are usually applied in several layers to create the thickness required by building codes.
Intumescent coatings are designed to bond with steel and concrete and form a uniform layer that is both durable and aesthetically pleasing. Intumescent paint is an ideal choice for commercial settings where combining safety and aesthetics is important. There are different finishes available and pigments can be added to provide the desired finish color.
By protecting structural steel buildings, intumescent paint extends the length of time a building can withstand high temperatures. The extra time allows occupants to escape, helps protect firefighters, and minimizes property damage and loss.
Fireproof Coatings Applied by the Pros
Unlike other paint applications, fireproofing is highly specialized and requires experience and the right products. When applying any type of fireproof coating, it’s important to use protective gear and follow safety precautions.
Property owners should work with a professional that understands how to properly apply fireproof coatings to meet all code and manufacturing requirements while achieving a visually appealing finish.
Proper application is key to the effectiveness of a fire-resistant coating. Specific compatible, manufacturer-designated primers must be used, and multiple coats must be applied to achieve the proper fire rating.
At Adam Roe Painting, our highly trained technicians are experts at preparing and coating surfaces so that they meet safety standards and stand the test of time. We ensure compliance with Federal, State, and OSHA general industry and construction regulations.
In business since 1985, we offer custom color matching, a residential exterior warranty of 5 years, and a one-year warranty on commercial and industrial projects. We are fully licensed, insured, and bonded for your protection. Call us at (208) 306-4240 to discuss your needs. We look forward to working with you.