Fire-Resistant Walls – Principles of Their Design
Each building has different construction materials used by the construction team. The materials can determine the durability and reliability of the building, especially during fires. It’s crucial that the building must have ways to prevent the spread of fire to ensure that firefighters can extinguish it right away and people within the building can quickly evacuate. Here is where you have to consider fire-resistant walls/
You can find that commercial buildings have classification types, ranging from Type 1 to 5. The classification gives you vital details about the building’s fire resistance, which is critical when following fire safety codes and regulations. A Type 5 building has the highest fire resistance, while Type 1 has the lowest.
Out of the many construction materials that make the building fire-resistant, walls can also significantly impact what classification type your building will be. It’s best to learn the principles of designing fire-resistant walls. This helps you to get a deeper understanding of its importance in achieving a fire-resistant building.
The walls you install in your building need to prevent fires from starting or spreading too fast. You can find many kinds of fire-rated walls that give your building a classification type of 3 or higher. Examples of non-combustible walls include brick masonry, concrete blocks, calcium silicate board, metal, and specific types of glass.
Installing them can increase your building’s fire prevention, ensuring you keep everyone safe in the event a fire happens in one area. The fire should prevent it from passing through the other room for a couple of hours, giving a person more time to extinguish it.
Another principle of designing fire-resistant walls is how effective they can contain fires. The walls you install in your building need to withstand at least two hours before the fire penetrates the other surface. The highest fire rating for walls is four hours, which you can get with bricks.
If the walls have building components that you need to protect from fires, you can add fire-rated access doors for wall installation. Not only can it contain fires, but it provides a convenient entry for building technicians whenever they need to work on the components.
Controlling and containing fires are different. A contained fire doesn’t mean that it’s almost extinguished, so there’s still a percentage of the fire that firefighters still need to put out. Once firefighters contain the fire, the next step is controlling it. Controlling fire means strengthening the control line and preventing the fire from combusting again.
You can only classify it as a controlled fire when the firefighters don’t detect any more hot spots around the area. The hot spots can last between a few hours or days. It will also depend on how much damage the fire made in the building. Fortunately, installing walls in the Type 1 fire-resistance classification ensures the fire stays in one building spot.
Aside from the flames, you also have to think about the smoke they generate. Building fires can create a thick blanket of smoke that can block a person’s vision and airways. If a person inhales too much smoke, they have a higher chance of experiencing life-threatening injuries.
Your walls have to contain the smoke from going out and invading the entire building. It’s not enough that you just install airtight doors or windows. The reason is that the smoke can penetrate through thin walls and even tiny gaps, holes, or cracks. You have to avoid placing highly flammable materials in spaces that don’t have fire-resistant walls.
Final on Fire-Resistant Walls
The things mentioned above are what manufacturers use as principles when constructing fire-resistant walls. Nowadays, every commercial building will always have walls and other construction materials that can help it classify as a Type 3 or higher. Anything lower than Type 3 can be dangerous, especially when thousands of people are inside the building daily.
You must keep your building’s fire resistance in mind to avoid encountering hefty penalties that can potentially halt the construction process. Discuss with your contractors how you can increase your commercial building’s classification type through walls and other fire-resistant materials.
In case you need any architectural and structural or MEP design requirements for your construction, feel free to contact us.
Chris Jackson is an experienced Business Development Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the construction industry. He is currently employed by Best Access Doors, an access door supplier in the US and Canada. He has been working for the company for more than 12 years now. His area of expertise is on Negotiation, Roofers, Sales, Project Estimation, and Facility Management (FM)