Preventing a fire from ever breaking out is always the preferred scenario. However, it’s not always possible. In a scenario where the fire does break out, you want it contained to as small of an area as possible. This process is called fireproofing.
So, two main methods for keeping yourself safe from the fire are:
While both concepts have the same objective, they use different methods to achieve their goals.
Firestopping is designed to prevent fire from breaking out; fireproofing ensures that the damage remains minimal if it breaks out. It doesn’t always stop the fire, but it contains its spread or slows it down.
With all of this in mind and without further ado, here’s what you need to know about fireproofing, who needs it, and how it’s done.
Why do you need fireproofing?
The main reason why you want to fireproof your home/business is to protect lives and property. This much is self-evident.
The thing is that it’s never a good time for a fire to break out.
- If you’re not home, no one can act and contain the fire. Sometimes, it’s easy to extinguish a small flame, but if there’s no one there, the flames can envelop the home and even spread to neighboring homes.
- If you are at home, your lives are at risk. Sure, you can take action, but the risk of getting injured in the fire is 0% if you're not at home. Saving your property means nothing if a close friend or a family member gets seriously injured.
In either of these scenarios, there’s a potential for a serious disaster. This is why fireproofing is such a great idea. This works passively, regardless if you’re taking action or not.
Your fire extinguishers can expire, or you can panic and forget how to use them properly. A fireproof area is a passive retardant and will slow the spread of fire (or stop it entirely) without you having to lift a finger.
You can always count on human error, especially in moments of crisis. When fighting, fleeing, or freezing, most people act in two ways. This is why a system that provides passive protection works like a charm.
Throw into the mix a fire alarm, and your fireproof home/area may just buy you enough time for the fire department to arrive.
Where it’s necessary?
Fire can break out anywhere, but it’s not just as likely to break out everywhere. What do we mean by that? If you have a furnace, it will more likely break out there than in your home gym. It’s also more likely to break out in the kitchen than in your bedroom.
To get one thing straight, every room in the house has outlets and small appliances. Even a lamp can start a fire. This is why it would be false to claim that any area of the room is completely safe. Still, if you’re working on a budget and have to prioritize, you should focus on the areas with the highest risk.
Fireproof paints should be applied to as much of your home as possible. The same goes for sprinklers. However, if you can’t cover everything, prioritize rooms with major heat sources. A furnace, an oven, and an electric heater are the three riskiest points in your home.
The ideal way to plan to fireproof is to envision fire starting from one point and observing the environment. Try to figure out what it could catch on to next.
It’s even better to call professionals. Let’s be honest and admit that you don’t know what you’re doing. You have no idea which materials are more flammable than others and the radius of which fire type. Having someone to help you out could potentially save lives.
What materials are used?
There are a lot of non-flammable materials used in construction. Here are some of the most popular, most effective, and most commonly used:
- Brick: The reason why brick homes are popular all across the world is that they’re solid, sturdy, and fireproof. After all, this is the very point of the children’s story of the “Three Little Pigs.” Now, there’s a difference between industrial brick and a brick wall. The main difference lies in the fact that mortar is not as fireproof.
- Concrete: When we first mentioned non-flammable construction materials, chances are that concrete was one of the first things on your mind. Many people don’t know this, but concrete is far more fire-resistant than steel. However, not all concrete is made the same. Cement and aggregate materials that go into concrete can be less fireproof. Their concentration in the concrete will differ depending on the recipe and manufacturing process.
- Synthetic fibers: Nothing beats synthetic fibers when it comes to materials engineered to be fireproof. Even though natural fibers are flammable, plastic-based synthetic fibers are believed to be among the most fire-resistant materials.
As mentioned, you can also use fire-resistant paint and many other materials. Still, when choosing a home or building one, the above-listed three materials are important to look out for.
How it’s done?
Previously, we’ve talked about fireproofing from the very start. We’re talking about fireproofing by choosing the right construction materials. However, what if you’re too late for the party? What if you have to fireproof an already-built home and don’t have the luxury of tearing down the walls and rebuilding them?
Well, the fire-proof coating is usually applied to the surfaces in question. This is the so-called spray-applied fire-resistive material (SFRM). Also, rearranging the layout and adding extra barriers could make a difference.
By choosing non-flammable materials, creating barriers, and investing in sprinklers, you’ll more effectively prepare for the worst-case scenario. These methods may not turn your home completely fireproof, but they can save most of it or buy you enough time for the fire department to arrive. Either way, it’s an investment you have to make, and I hope you’ll never get a chance for it to pay off. The best fireproofing technique is the one whose effectiveness you never get to test.