The Ideal Design of a Fire-Resistant Building
To protect a building from fire and ensure the safety of its occupants, today’s contractor and architects aim to include fire-resistant components, like Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICF), in their new construction projects. The growing focus in fire-resistant building design is highly due to a rise in wildfires and longer wildfire seasons.
In 2017, there were 31,017 wildfires in the United States; an 8 percent increase over 2016. Many scientists blame the increase in wildfires on increasing global temperatures, early snow melts, and drier forests due to climate change. Protecting a building and its occupants from dangerous fires requires using fire-resistant materials, like Fox Blocks, in new construction projects.
Passive Fire Protection for a Fire-Resistant Building
Passive fire protection restricts the spread of fire through a structure, which reduces the danger to the occupants and damage to the property. Passive fire protection also protects vital structural components and prevents the collapse of a building. Passive fire protection is often not visible to the occupants; however, when a fire happens, its value in saving lives and protecting property is clear and essential.
Accomplishing passive fire protection is through the use of fire-resistant walls, windows, doors, roofs, and vents.
Fox Blocks Create Fire-Resistant Walls
A critical element of passive fire protection is the wall system. An excellent option for passive firewall protection is Fox Blocks insulated concrete forms (ICFs). The 6-inch Fox Blocks have an ASTM E119 fire rating of four hours (twice the two-hour requirement), an ASTM E84 reported values for flame speed of less than 25, and smoke development of less than 450.
Along with excellent fire-resistance, Fox Blocks are disaster-resistant, noise reducing, and have high thermal mass with an R-value of 23. Also, because Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, Fox Blocks control moisture intrusion and prohibit the growth of mold and mildew. Importantly, Fox Blocks exceeds ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements, and create energy-efficient buildings.
A best practice for constructing a fire-resistant building includes a fire-resistant wall system, like one constructed with Fox Blocks ICFs.
Windows and Doors for a Fire-Resistant Building
Fire-resistant glass in the windows and doors is crucial for a fire-resistant building. Classification of fire-resistant glass in doors and windows is according to their insulation and integrity. Insulation is the length of time the glazing product protects the building's occupants from the heat radiating from a fire. Integrity is the length of time the glazing contains the smoke, fire, and hot flames in a space, so to lessen the spread of the fire. Fire-resistant building design must include fire-resistant glass in the windows and doors.
The Roof for a Fire-Resistant Building
The roof of a fire-resistant building must resist catching fire. Roofs are susceptible to fire from lightning, wildfires, chimney fires, sparks, fireworks, and burning debris. Constructing a roof with fire-resistant materials is a building’s best protection against a roof fire.
Fire-testing exposure of roof systems is in accordance with ASTM E108 or UL 790. Fire-retardant-treated wood roof coverings must also be in accordance with ASTM D2898. The UL 790 establishes three classes of fire-resistant roofing. A best practice for constructing a fire-resistant building uses Class A roofing.
- Class A roof coverings protect against severe fire test exposures and will not slip from a position, or produce flying brands. Class A roof materials include concrete slate, asphalt glass, tiles, clay tiles, and fiber composition shingles.
- Class B roof coverings protect against moderate fire test exposures to the roof deck, will not slip from a position, or produce flying brands. Class B roof materials include shingles and pressure-treated shakes.
- Class C roof coverings protect against light fire test exposures and will not slip from a position or produce flying brands. Class C roofing products include particleboard, plywood, and untreated wood shakes and shingles.
Vents for a Fire-Resistant Building
Because flames and embers can enter a building through vents, the design of the vents must resist these intrusions. There are several techniques for protecting vents from flying ashes and embers.
- Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to establish a barrier between the vents and the embers.
- Cover the vent openings with 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch metal mesh.
Incorporating fire-resistant elements in new construction is vital to the protection of the building and its occupants. Crucial components of a fire-resistant building include passive fire protection with fire-resistant Fox Block exterior walls, window, door, roofs, and vents.
Please visit Fox Blocks for more information on fire-resistant building design.