Fire protection is one of the most important issues ever to be addressed by building owners and facility managers. Many facility features can be optional or arbitrarily implemented by facility managers, but a fire protection program is not. It is so important that no facility can ever be operational without it, because it is a part of the requirements for Building Regulations compliance.
Fire protection systems are critical to the operations of the facility for several reasons. The first and most important is to save lives. Fire protective building paint coatings systems should allow for the safe escape of people when fire breaks out. A slow spread of fire and its rapid extinguishing also preserves the structural soundness of the building and saves assets and the overall infrastructure from costly damage. And in the event of emergency fire-fighting operations, fire protective systems can also prevent any harm to rescuers and firefighters on the job.
Protecting Facilities from Fire
A comprehensive fire protection program for the facility involves the installation of active and passive fire protection systems. Active systems are aimed to actively combat fire at its onset, consisting mainly of extinguishers, water sprinklers, and fire detectors, among others.
Active systems detect the presence of fire early on, trigger the evacuation of building occupants, and alert emergency teams immediately. Fire suppressors and ventilators can even manage the spread of fire and starve it out of oxygen.
Passive systems, on the other hand, act as a form of second-line defense to contain the rapid spread of fire. Passive fire protective coatings systems, such as intumescent building paint, attempt to diffuse the fire and protect the building structure from collapse.
Passive fire protection relies for the most part on the unique ability of intumescent substances to combat fire. Intumescents increase in volume and decrease in density when exposed to heat, charring as a result. The char becomes a poor heat conductor, denying fire from spreading further. Many fire protective coatings with intumescent properties contain hydrates, sodium silicates and graphite elements. The hydrates release water vapor when exposed to heat, inducing a cooling effect and producing the fire-retarding char that insulates against fire growth. Many hydrates-based low-pressure intumescents are used in fire protective coatings that act as fire-proofing, because of this endothermic property.
At ambient temperatures, intumescent fire protective coatings visibly look similar to ordinary paint finish. It is only during soaring temperatures that their real abilities come out. One important role of intumescent coatings is for protecting steel structures. When steel’s critical point temperature is reached it causes irrevocable structural failure.
Fire Protection Coatings Contractors
Saving lives and assets need the expertise of skilled fire protection coatings contractors to make the fire protection coatings system work. The right contractors are an essential part of the facility’s safety planning team, because they bring in the experience and knowledge for better fire protection.
Their ability to setup the most superior coatings systems that can reduce the rate of spread of fire is very critical when the dreaded event eventually arrives. The right coatings can give occupants time to flee to safety, and lessen damage to building structures. Contractors must be able to customize coatings systems suitable for the specific building materials and structures, as well as meet the requirements of industry standards for fire protection.