Why You Should Fireproof Steel Beams in Your Commercial Property

Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Why You Should Fireproof Steel Beams in Your Commercial Property

The steel beams that support your commercial facility are some of your property’s most important features. Without this sturdy structural framework, your business’ building wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on -- literally. Despite the inherent strength and durability of steel, this iron alloy is not invulnerable. In the event of a fire at your building, it won’t typically rise to the temperature of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit to cause steel beams to melt; however, reaching 1,500 degrees is very possible, and at that temperature those steel beams can quickly become significantly weakened, warped, and unsound.  If and when this occurs, your entire building and everyone in it are in danger. So, the more you can mitigate the effects of fire on your structural steel via active fire protection (i.e. sprinklers) and passive fire protection  (i.e. intumescent coatings and cementitious fireproofing) the better.

Let’s go over three key reasons why you should (and must) fireproof the steel beams in your commercial property.

Why Your Steel Beams Need Fireproofing

To Protect Your Property’s Structural Integrity

As we just mentioned, your building’s steel beams are primarily what give your property its structure and keep it standing tall and secure. Should these beams lose their tensile strength or shape, your building runs the risk of collapsing. The high heat from a fire poses the greatest threat to your structural steel. So, in addition to taking steps to prevent fires from starting in your facility (i.e. regular maintenance, safe storage, proper use of electronics, etc.), it’s equally important to shield your structural steel in a fire-resistant protective coating that keeps the hottest flames from reaching these materials.

There are a number of fireproofing products and methods out there, such as intumescent coatings, cementitious, and gypsum-based fireproofing technologies. While these different methods behave differently, they all serve the same basic function: to form a monolithic physical barrier between the fire and the underlying surface (steel beams, in this case). The proper implementation of one or more of these methods will help protect your property from falling apart in the event of a fire. When a business owner suffers fire damage or structural issues, this can cause substantial downtime and preclude the business from operating as usual. If you take these precautions now, you will experience less work stoppage if there is ever a catastrophe. 

To Give Your People More Time to Escape a Fire

Merely preventing a collapse isn’t the only reason to apply spray on fire protection for steel beams (or other fireproofing methods), of course. Indeed, the main reason to maintain your property’s structural integrity is to keep everyone inside safe. In that same vein, fireproofing your facility can prevent injury and save lives by extending the amount of time people have to exit the building. Intumescent coatings, for instance, expand into an insulating “foam” char layer when exposed to high heat, which protects the steel from the flames, and in turn reduces its impact on your property’s structural components. In doing so, your employees and customers can more easily and safely get away from the burning property and firefighters have more time to effectively douse the flames. Not only will this save lives, but also save as much of your building as possible allowing you to keep your business going again as soon as possible.

To Remain Compliant with Building Codes

The final major reason to fireproof your property’s steel beams is to protect your business from fines and reputational problems. Simply put, buildings in all industries across the country must abide by strict fire codes as mandated by federal and local law. If your property is not properly protected via intumescent coatings, fire protection spray for steel, and/or other required fireproofing methods, you run the risk of not only literally but figuratively burning your business to the ground as you combat various legal issues. Make sure you’re up to date on all relevant building codes and fireproofing mandates to steer clear of these costly violations.

The bottom line: the safety and security of your property, your people, and your organization depend on properly fireproofing your steel beams. If you need assistance in getting your workplace up to par in this regard, Kaloutas has you (and your steel) covered with our fireproofing services. We will work on your schedule and budget. We have years of experience with fireproofing and extensive knowledge on best practices. As a contractor equipped to deal with many trades, we won’t only check your building for proper fireproofing protocols but for other safety measures as well. To learn more about us and all that we do, contact us online, or give us a call at 978-532-1414 today.

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