More than ever, it’s vital that we choose fire resilient materials to boost the fire safety of our buildings and protect the lives of the people using them. After all, fires develop more than six times faster than in the 1950s – mainly because we use more plastic and other combustible materials in our spaces. When it comes to fire safety, choosing building materials isn’t complicated. In fact, answering a simple question can make all the difference: Is it combustible or non-combustible? For the fire safety of building materials, there’s no more important distinction.
Combustible materials burn, non-combustible ones don’t
Not all insulation materials react in the same way to fire and heat. A material's combustibility is determined by measuring the results from a series of ‘Reaction to Fire’ tests that cover these key characteristics. Only insulation materials with the highest reaction to fire classification, known as Euroclass A1 or A2-s1,d0, can be considered as non-combustible. Non-combustible stone wool materials will not burn. And if they are exposed to fire, they also won’t emit significant amounts of toxic smoke – the leading cause of fatalities in building fires.
Combustible materials, on the other hand, are a potential source of fuel as they can be ignited and burn during a fire event – even with the addition of chemical flame retardants. And if they do catch fire, combustible materials will contribute to the fire’s spread and intensity. It’s one choice that affects the lives of many people. We make choices every day in our lives based on risks to our own safety, like wearing a seatbelt every time we get in a car or teaching our children to cross the road only at the zebra crossing. But choosing between combustible or non-combustible building materials for a building is different – it’s a choice on behalf of many people today and in the future.
Understanding the fire resilience of stone wool
With over 3.7 million fires occurring in cities all over the world every year and more than 43,000 lives lost as a result, high-profile fire incidents have led to increased scrutiny of the fire safety of our buildings. As a result, many countries have strengthened their requirements for the fire properties of building materials. It’s clear. Non-combustible insulation materials, such as stone wool, play a crucial role in improving the fire-resistance of buildings, by helping limit the spread of fire and assisting in ensuring a safer environment for all residents.
During a fire, stone wool helps to ensure the integrity of the building structure and to reduce the transfer of heat to another space for long periods of time – over 90 minutes in many cases. As a natural fire barrier, it is often used to protect combustible elements as well as steel structures from fire to give residents more time to evacuate the building and to give firefighters a safer environment to extinguish the fire and rescue people.
Building for today with an eye on tomorrow
As buildings only get built (or deeply renovated) once, choosing non-combustible materials is a critically important choice made on behalf of everyone using that space – potentially hundreds even thousands of people – for as long as that building is standing.
Stone wool is fire safe by nature, and creating safer homes and buildings is a vital aspect of “By Nature”, our new marketing and brand positioning campaign. Our goal is to convince stakeholders that ROCKWOOL stone wool is the responsible choice also when it comes to the environment, fire safety, health, and wellbeing.
If it were your choice to make, which type of materials would you choose, combustible or non-combustible?
Our choices matter, also when it comes to building materials.
To explore “By Nature” further and watch our video, please visit By Nature