Fire safety is a vey important issue in today’s society. Fire proof materials are needed to reduce the loss of lives and property damage. The number of fire regulations controlling the use of materials is growing fast. In this respect flammable cellulosic materials require special attention. Only properly and safely, fire retardant treated materials will satisfy present and future regulations.
The Fire Triangle is usually used as a tool in order to create and/or stop fire. The Fire Triangle’s elements represent oxygen, heat, and fuel and mean that all three elements must be present at the same time in order to create fire. In contrast, in order to stop a fire, at least one of these elements must be removed.
Fire retardants are chemicals applied to materials to inhibit or suppress the combustion process. They interfere with combustion at various stages of the process e.g. during heating, decomposition, ignition or flame spread. Fire is gas-phase, exothermic reaction. For a substance to burn, it must Become a gas. Flammable materials exposed to a heat source will have a temperature increase. If the temperature of the source (either radiative or gas fire) and heat transfer are high enough, pyrolytic decomposition will occur. The products of this decomposition include combustible gases. The combustible gases mix with the ambient air and its oxygen. The mixture ignites, yielding a fire, when its composition and temperature are favorable. Part of the heat generated within the fire is transferred to the material to sustain the burning process and part is lost to the surroundings.
Fire retardant v.s. Fire resistance
Fire retardant treated materials are able to resist easily ignition and win time to escape from a fire. When FR treated materials finally start to burn, they are designed to burn slowly. FR products like Magma Firestop® are formulated to improve the reaction to fire properties of a material and meant to prevent the starting of a fire. Reaction to fire tests describe the early phases of fire; ignition, heat release, fire spread, smoke production, and relates to products and materials. These treated products are classified in fire classes.
Fire resistance deals with the load bearing capacity, integrity and insulation properties of structural elements, such as wall and floor elements, under fully developed fire conditions. Fire resistant materials delay heat penetration through a substrate and is classified in time (30, 60 ,90, 120 minutes etc.).
For a lot of materials, fire safety is vital and test laboratories are able to serve you in assessment, classification, inspection and certification of these materials.
Whether you are involved with building construction, transportation equipment, industrial processes or offshore applications, you will need the assistance of an organisation that understands and can certify your products to be accepted throughout the world.
Fire retardants can act physically and/or chemically by interfering at particular stages of a fire:
- By cooling; endothermic processes triggered by the fire retardants cool the substrate.
- By forming a protective layer; the heat transfer is impeded, fewer pyrolysis gases are evolved, and the oxygen is excluded.
- By dilution; substances, which evolve inert gases on decomposition, dilute the fuel in the solid and gaseous phases. The concentrations of combustible gases fall below the ignition limit.
- Reaction in the gas phase; the free radical mechanism of combustion processes which takes place in the gas phase could be interrupted by fire retardants.
- Reaction in the solid phase; one mechanism is the accelerated breakdown of materials.
The idea of creating a safer environment by using fire retardant chemicals is not new, it is however under-developed and plagued by an image of toxicity problems, environmental liabilities, high costs and innumerous legislative obstacles. As a result of stringent fire regulations the end product must comply with relevant fire criteria in different sectors of industry in terms of the harmonized building regulations in the EU. For transportation there are many different fire standards due to the differences in fire scenarios. There are special regulations for aviation, ships, railway, cars and buses all described in subdivision fire standards for the various applications. Through this maze of complex regulation, fire tests and certification it is important to engage with a professional partner like Magma Industries who are able to provide this assistance. Not only by providing the right fire retardant product for your materials but also by assisting and advising in the certification of your products.