Containing fire

January 1, 1

High quality fire-resistant materials can make the difference between a fire in a building and a building on fire

The importance of fire compartment

With fires developing much faster today compared to 50 years ago, it is critical in relation to personal safety and the future use of the building that once a fire begins, it is contained to the smallest possible area – the so-called “fire compartment”.

After fire reaches the flashover point, the only way to keep it from engulfing much larger areas of the building from the inside is to ensure that the walls, ceilings, floors and doors of the fire compartment can withstand being exposed to a fully developed fire on one side while not transporting heat, flames or toxic gases to the other side. How long they need to be able to contain the fire depends on the size, complexity and function of the building.

That said, post-flashover, the fire’s heat is intense and can break through the windows, which risks exposing the building façade to the fire and thus circumventing the fire compartment. If the façade system, including cladding and/or insulation, consists of non-combustible materials, however, the flames might eventually reach and breach the windows of the floor above, but the process will be comparatively slow as the façade wouldn’t contribute to the spread of the fire (and resulting smoke).

With fire resilient properties that can contain fire, stone wool insulation can make the difference between having a fire in a building versus a building on fire.

Measuring the relative fire resistance

Effective fire compartments coupled with non-combustible façade systems contribute to slowing the fire’s spread, thus giving building occupants more time to escape and the fire brigades more time to extinguish the blaze. This is especially important in medium- and high-rise buildings.

Measuring the relative fire resistance of different structures is an important step in ensuring fire-safe buildings.  To this end, most fire safety standards worldwide have adopted a century-old time/temperature curve that is a proven, harmonised way of testing building materials and elements in worst-case scenarios. Because it’s so rigorous, the time/temperature standard provides a high level of confidence that approved fire resistant materials and products will perform as expected in different fire incidents. 

ROCKWOOL insulation is a key component in fire-resistant buildings. Stone wool insulation can withstand temperatures above 1,000º C and is inherently non-combustible, so it can help ensure a fire in a building does not become a building on fire. 

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