Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Fire Hazards Associated with Exterior Walls with Combustible Components

Bison Fire's Protection For Combustible Walls

In our modern era, the human race is constantly creating innovative materials, built environments, and structures that enhance the quality of life for many. However, there is still an alarming amount of fast-spreading fires whose danger is enhanced by the exterior wall cladding on high-rise buildings. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), some examples include high-rise fires in London, Shanghai, and Dubai.

Many materials used in the exterior wall construction of modern buildings contain combustible materials that are aimed to increase aesthetics, energy conservation, and the infiltration of water. Why are these materials still used, and how can exterior walls stop being associated with combustible components to increase safety for inhabitants?

The Dangers of Combustible Components in Exterior Walls

According to the NFPA, new exterior wall systems have been designed and tested to better the performance of a building in its entirety. Thankfully, they have also created resources that weigh the pros and cons of specific exterior wall materials for both existing buildings and new construction to help designers and facility owners make better decisions.

A study completed by White and Delichatsios found that 79% of exterior wall fires were in buildings that were 1-2 stories, even in those with a sprinkler system present. In addition, they also found that automatic extinguishing systems were installed in 39% of buildings that experienced an exterior wall fire.

However, the amount of information available on exterior wall fires is quite small. The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) states that “there was limited information on the types of exterior walls involved in fires, ignition details, and mechanisms of fire spread.” This lack of information makes it extremely difficult for architects and building managers to make the best decision in how they can protect their building and the people who use it.

Fire Safety Issues with Exterior Walls

According to the NFPA, there has been a link between increasing energy efficiency and refurbish buildings globally. As plastic materials with combustible components are much cheaper and easier to install as compared to better, more fire-safe materials, there is not currently as many accessible options that enhance the safety of exterior walls.

When fire is able to spread due to combustible materials on the external walls, one of the main hazards is that internal fire protection and suppression systems cannot keep a fire-related emergency at bay once it has begun. Sadly, without the right material innovations and emphasis on the safety of the building over the convenience and cost of building it, the construction and existence of buildings with combustible components in their exterior walls may not dissipate.

At Bison Fire Protection, we believe in creating a fire-safe environment in residential areas and commercial buildings alike. By continuing the conversation on how we can stop tragedies like the Grenfell Tower fire in London, we can hopefully inspire the creation of innovative, fire-safe materials for external walls.

If you’re in need of an inspection of the external or internal components of your building, get in touch with Bison Fire Protection today. We’re available for service in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Kenora, Regina, or Saskatoon. Call 866-441-3473 today for more information, or find us online.

 

Posted by Rob Read at 1:39 PM

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