Raising the standards of structural fire protection

The principles of building performance in the event of a fire have remained constant for years, with the overarching goal to reduce the risk to people and property if there is a fire. The findings of the Grenfell Inquiry have re-emphasised the vital importance of designing buildings to allow for safe evacuation by ensuring that there is no premature failure of any element within the building itself, and that fire and smoke cannot spread from one compartment to another. The Inquiry also made clear that the choice of the materials used to protect residents is based on transparent testing and traceability.

Concrete is a major component of many buildings constructed in the UK, both in new developments and renovation projects. While concrete does provide a degree of natural fire resistance, in the event of a fire exposed concrete can experience both mechanical and chemical changes. These include the potential for explosive spalling, where portions of concrete delaminate from the surface layer, and external cracking caused by thermal expansion and the dehydration of the concrete – in both cases allowing the direct heating of exposed reinforcing steel (rebar). At temperatures more than 260°C rebar will progressively lose its tensile strength, resulting in the potential structural failure of reinforced concrete.

There are two effective methods to increase the fire resistance in concrete structures; either by the use of coatings such as cementitious sprays, which can be time consuming and messy to apply on site, or fire protection board. Whichever method is chosen for a project; it is crucial to ensure that the passive fire protection specified is fully-tested as part of a system at extreme temperatures to ensure superior fire resistance. The fire protection specialist, Promat, has recently launched PROMATECT®-H which is tested to EN 13381-3: 2015 and ensures that concrete elements of a building are not at risk of structural failure in the event of a fire.

PROMATECT®-H is the ideal solution for architects and specifiers because it offers superior fire resistance and, in the event of a fire, it can protect concrete elements for up to 240 minutes. This means that the use of the board in a building will ensure that concrete columns, walls, beams, and slabs comply with all existing fire regulations and UK Building Regulations. In addition to this, the fire protection board is classified as A1 non-combustible when tested and classified in accordance with to EN13501-1, making it easy to specify with confidence.

David Roulstone, Passive Fire Protection Product Manager at Promat, commented, “The fire performance of building materials is at the very core of what we do as a business. However, all UK construction professionals need to consider how to control or restrict the spread of a fire and maintain the fire resistance of the building. By specifying fully-tested passive fire protection boards, such as PROMATECT®-H, architects and specifiers can rest assured that a building’s concrete elements comply with all existing fire and UK Building Regulations. This helps to minimise the risk of reinforcing steel or concrete overheating before occupants have had sufficient time to exit a building in the unfortunate event of a fire.”

PROMATECT®-H offers architects, main contractors, sub-contractors, and other specifiers the option to upgrade structural elements. This offers a more flexible approach to internal fit outs or refurbishment projects as ceilings and partitions can also be easily created using Etex fire protection boards. As an added advantage, the boards also have a smooth surface to achieve a great finish with paints and standard joint fillers.

With a high resistance to water, PROMATECT®-H will not deteriorate when used in damp or humid conditions. This enables the board to be installed and left semi-exposed so it can be brought into the construction schedule at an early stage, making the build process faster and helping to keep to project timelines.

For more information, please visit www.promat.com

Source: Specification Online