There are usually three main categories used in building materials that are cited as benefiting from being flame retardant:
- Cables and wires
- Structural elements
Each of these has seen significant improvements to their fire retardant capabilities during the past 40 years. Manufacturers have worked diligently with researchers to fashion new, innovative solutions that have improved building materials. The products used today are typically safer and more reliable because of this effort.
Improvements in Structural Elements
In particular (and our area of expertise), structural elements can now be engineered to be stronger and safer. Wood, which is a great renewable resource and a primary means of construction since the beginning of human history, is much better understood than it was just a few short decades ago. The work done to engineer panels, joist, I-beams, etc. has been remarkable. As a result, crews are installing better decking, sub flooring, wall sheathing, roof sheathing and more.
But, until more recently, manufacturers and researchers couldn’t solve one of the biggest issues with wood: it can quickly go up in flames if ignited. This forced many builders to look for inferior products to meet fire safety standards.
Most attempts to reduce the spread of fire:
- Were much heavier than wood because they had heavy concrete coatings
- Required special tools for fasteners that few building crews had
- Were cost prohibitive, especially as margins tightened in the construction industry
Advances in Fire Retardant Coatings
One of the solutions we at FLAMEDXX developed was a fire retardant coating. This special coating raises the temperature at which a material ignites, which reduces the rate at which it burns and the spread of flames. This makes the product endure flames up to two hours longer than untreated OSB. Because the coating is lightweight, it makes the boards easy to install and requires no special tools.
It is a fairly simple solution, but it required years of work to perfect and test.
One of the key elements we had tackle as we developed our coating was what was emitted as the coated wood burned. The coating we created was thoroughly tested and to meet and exceeded safety recommendations. Specifically, the UPITT Test for combustion which tests the property of Smoke Toxicity, found that the FLAMEDXX morbidity rate demonstrated that it was less toxic than wood. It also found in the BSS723988 (Boeing) Test for the property of Toxic Gas Generation, that FLAMEDXX smoke generated gas emissions were well below the allowable limits for HCI, HCN, HF, NOx, CO and SO2.
That’s a lot of industry speak and acronyms – translated, they mean safer structural elements that are easy to install for contractors and framers.
Flame retardant materials can help builders meet multi-family home safety standards and codes. And these safe fire retardant materials can help to save lives in an emergency. Simply put, flame retardants stop or slow the spread of fire, thus providing more time to escape from a burning building safely.
And, hopefully, our industry will continue to make advances to create building products that are safer and safer. We’ll work to do our part.
If you have questions, please visit our website www.flamedxx.com or send me an email.