Buildings have become integral to our lifestyles, and to the everyday running of businesses. But in the event of a fire, buildings can quickly become a serious threat if they are not correctly and effectively fireproofed. One of the most crucial parts of passive fireproofing is the effective application of fireproof coatings. These coatings are not only a building’s first line of defence against a fire, but are also crucial to the protection of the inhabitants, the assets inside and to the infrastructure of the building itself. In this article, we’ll examine the importance of fireproof coatings, detailing the role they play in building safety and all the benefits of effective fireproofing.

Protecting a building’s infrastructure

Fireproof coatings are not just installed to control a fire, but also to act as a protective layer for the material they are applied onto. Some of the most common fireproof coating products are Intumescent paints, which work by insulating surfaces. Where normal paint is 50-100 microns (a general thickness), intumescent paint can be as thick as 6,000-12,000 micros depending on the manufacturer and Fire Resistance Level (FRL) needing to be achieved, meaning it is significantly thicker. Intumescent paint works by swelling and charring when exposed to fire. Intumescent coating products can offer a fire rating level of anything from 30 minutes to 120 minutes (intumescent paint chars at a rate of 50:1, for example from 3mm-5mm to 150mm – 250mm). These fireproof coatings could be protecting everything from steel infrastructure to wall and floor beams, which would have dire consequences if they were to become damaged from a fire. In many cases, the integrity of the entire building will be put into jeopardy if its structural elements are put at risk. Here, the fireproofing coatings play an absolutely crucial role in the safekeeping of a building.

Limiting the spread of fire

Fires spread rapidly, and can increase in size in a matter of seconds. Many passive fireproofing systems make use of fire retardant paint which is designed to effectively slow down the spread of flames across the surface on which it is applied. Many of these fire retardant paints also release a flame dampening gas when they heat up, which delays the spread of fire. Without fireproof coatings having been effectively applied, fire would spread quickly, damaging a building, its contents and potentially causing serious injury or death to the people inside. In this case the benefits of fireproof coatings are two fold. They help to reduce the amount of flames, and thus the damage to the structural integrity caused by it. But they also assist fire services, who are able to put out a smaller fire than if the fireproof coatings weren’t present, as well as reducing the risk firefighters undergo by taking on building fires.

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Thermal Insulation

Another characteristic of fireproof coatings is their thermal insulation qualities. Fireproof coatings work as an effective thermal barrier between a flame and building material. This thermal insulation reduces the spread of high-temperature flame, dampening the intensity of the fire and making it easier to put out.

Protecting a range of materials

What many people don’t know around fireproofing a building is that most of the standard materials used in construction are flammable. While many people think that timber and boarding are the most susceptible, metal elements like steel can also be at significant risk during a fire if not treated with a fireproof coating. In intense temperatures steel will eventually begin to get weak spots which leads to it losing its load bearing capacity. Fire also causes internal damage to steel, forcing it to warp and lose its strength. Fireproof coatings offer fire protection to all materials used in building construction, reducing damage to both the material and the building’s integrity.

Prolong Evacuation Time

In the event of a building fire, saving people’s lives is what matters most. Because fireproof coatings have such effective fire dampening qualities, they significantly delay the spread of fire and reduce the amount of heat and smoke. Of all the benefits, the most crucial is that this allows more time for occupants to evacuate a building safely and provide the fire services with a guideline of how long the building will be structurally safe for. When effectively installed, fireproof coatings may be largely responsible for saving people’s lives.

Fireproofing with professionals

Fireproof coatings are essential to the safety of a building in the event of a fire. To ensure that they are effective, always make sure you are making use of a trusted brand’s fireproof coating products, and that the brand you choose meets all safety and legal regulations. It is also recommended that all fireproof coatings are installed by trained passive fire protection professionals.

PROFINISH is an expert end-to-end passive fire protection system provider with years of experience installing fireproof coatings on a range of civic and commercial building types. We only ever use the best quality products, and work alongside a building team to ensure an effective, streamlined way of working. We also take care of all legal and compliance requirements. For any guidance or service you might require around fireproof coatings, get in touch with a member of our team today.