Knowing Your Options when Fireproofing Your Steel Structures
Steel has long been a staple of structural engineering for good reason. This iron alloy is strong, durable, highly versatile, and relatively inexpensive. It takes a lot of energy to severely damage steel structures. That said, steel is not indestructible — while a typical building fire (i.e. 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) won’t melt structural steel (which melts at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit), this level of heat can cause steel to bend and weaken, which in turn can cause a facility to collapse. As such, buildings that feature structural steel must feature the proper fire protection in accordance with relevant codes. Properly fireproofing your steel components will reduce the risk of major fires, minimize the devastation of fires, and give people more time to safely exit the building in case of emergency.
There are multiple ways to fireproof steel structures. Knowing your options (as well as the building codes relevant to your location and industry) will help you better secure your facility and keep your people safe. With that in mind, Kaloutas offers fireproofing services. Let’s explore your options and what it means for your business’ bottom line.
Best Ways to Fireproof Steel
One of the most popular fireproofing options, intumescent coatings are applied to surfaces like standard paint — however, when exposed to extremely high temperatures, a chemical reaction is triggered which causes these protective coatings to expand, increasing in volume and decreasing in density. As a result, a buffer is quickly created that keeps flames from directly scorching the steel material. And during normal operations, these coatings aren’t any more noticeable than a regular industrial paint job.
Cementitious/Conventional Spray-on Fire Protection for Steel
These fireproof coatings also serve to form a barrier between harsh flames and steel surfaces. Unlike intumescent coatings, however, conventional spray-applied fire-resistive material (SFRM), such as lightweight cement, do not activate in the presence of a fire. Instead, these coatings provide inherent fire resistance and physical barrier between the heat and steel. That said, it usually takes several successive coats to achieve the proper level of protection. Additionally, these fireproof coatings are often more conspicuous than their intumescent counterparts and may create space between the coating and the substrate, which allows moisture build-up.
Rigid Board Fireproofing
Lastly, fireproofing services offer rigid board fireproofing as well. As its name suggests, this method of passive fire protection involves fastening boards of fire-resistant material (i.e. mineral wool) to the structures in question. Installing these fire-resistant boards may be recommended for facilities with particular environmental needs and characteristics, such as cold temperatures or frequent chemical use. Best of all, rigid board fireproofing can be installed without interfering with production processes or construction schedules. These boards can offer several hours of protection for columns, beams, ceilings/floors, and roofing, and may be used alongside spray-on applications for additional protection.
Protect Your Steel and Your People with Fireproofing
This overview of the primary fireproofing options for steel structures can help you reassess your own facilities’ fire protection efforts. Of course, each method features a number of nuances that require further consideration. At Kaloutas, our industrial fireproofing experts are happy to deliver more specifics on any and all of these fire protection options that you might consider. We find intumescent fireproof coatings to be the most effective. However, we work how you work and can adapt and manage the way you need us to. To learn more about us and all that we do, contact us online or give us a call at 978−532−1414.