An Overview of Industrial Insulation for Fire Prevention
Regardless of their size, all industrial and commercial buildings are extremely susceptible to fires. Flammable liquids and gases, combustible dust, and hot work equipment pose serious fire safety concern. Therefore, when workplaces ignore their need for proper fireproofing precautions, they often put their workers as well as properties at great risk.
Fireproofing is undoubtedly the clear first step while establishing an organisation’s maintenance and safety protocols. Concrete and steel structures in buildings remain exposed to different sources of heat that can lead to a fire breakout. Insulation for fire prevention is one of the best ways to deal with this problem. As an added benefit, insulation also helps save energy cost by regulating temperature. Insulation is done using different insulation fireproofing materials, following different methodologies.
Most Commonly Used Fireproofing Insulation Materials
A wide range of insulation products are available nowadays in the market.
Fibreglass: This type of insulation makes use of superfine fibreglass spun into rolls or balls. Fibreglass can also be used as loose-fill insulation. This is one of the most commonly used insulating materials because of its versatility, easy availability, and affordability. As fibreglass comprises glass, it is naturally resistant to combustion. Therefore, it does not require any additional treatment using fire-retardant chemicals. It is important to remember that certain fibreglass facings such as Kraft paper and foil are combustible. However, they are not prone to fire hazards, as long as a code-approved barrier is installed with the faced insulation.
Mineral Wool: Also referred to as slag wool or rock wool, these materials are made of natural minerals such as diabase and basalt. An eco-friendly material containing approximately 75 percent post-industrial recycled content, mineral wool is available in rolls, batts, and also as loose-fill insulation. As they comprise entirely of non-combustible fibres, additional fire-retardant chemicals are not required. Mineral wool is capable of withstanding temperatures as high as more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, unlike fibreglass, mineral wool doesn’t melt when exposed to extreme heat.
Spray Foam: Foamed-in-place or sprayed insulation is usually made of polyisocyanurate, polyurethane, or other foaming products. It can be used for all types of insulation related applications, from unfinished attic floors to enclosed existing walls to open wall cavities. Small, hand-held spray containers are used to apply spray foam. Some spray foam variants don’t stand up well against fire and tend to ignite at just 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why all foam materials must be covered by an approved thermal barrier after installation. However, it is worth remembering that the fire resistance of low-density polyurethane spray foam is much higher, and it doesn’t sustain a flame.
Cellulose: Made of recycled paper, this is another eco-friendly choice for fireproof insulation. Tiny shredded pieces of paper are used as loose-fill insulation in building cavities that are oddly shaped, where rolls and batts can’t be used. As paper is highly combustible, nontoxic borate or ammonium sulphate is used to make the insulation fire resistant. When installed properly, cellulose insulation can resist high temperatures up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia (BCA) provide detailed guidelines related to fire and safety requirements for insulation. It is essential for all property owners to choose the right insulation and ensure adherence to Australian Standards as mentioned in the guide.
At Coating Management Solutions, we offer a wide spectrum of consultancy and inspection services for fireproofing insulation. Feel free to contact us today to discuss your requirement.