Life Safety

Bautex Composite Wall Systems Achieve a Four Hour Fire Rating with Insulation

Fire resis­tance in a wall assembly is crucial to pre­serv­ing a building’s structure and ensuring the safety of the occupants. Of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance, when it comes to fire resis­tance, is the type of insu­la­tion used in the wall assembly. Wall insu­la­tion, insulated concrete forms, and struc­tur­al insulated panels commonly use expanded poly­styrene (EPS) foam insu­la­tion. A concern with EPS is that it can catch on fire if not utilized and installed correctly according to the Inter­na­tion­al Building Code (IBC). The IBC mandates that walls are made of non­com­bustible materials and carry specific fire ratings. The greater the chance of fire in a par­tic­u­lar location, the higher the required fire rating. Com­bustible parts of a wall assembly, like EPS, must include a fire resistant appli­ca­tion to achieve the required fire rating for the location. Two industry standards evaluate the fire resis­tance of walls: the ASTM E119, and the ASTM E2257.

  • The ASTM E119 (and ULC-S101) test deter­mines the fire rating of a wall assembly. The fire rating is a wall’s capa­bil­i­ty to stop a fire from expanding, as a measure of time.The test exposes a test sample of a wall assembly to con­trolled heat for one, two or more hours. Once exposure begins, the rating is deter­mined by the length of time before the average tem­per­a­ture on the unexposed side of the sample increases by 250° F (121° C), the heat, gases, or flame escape to the unexposed side, or the sample crumbles under load. For fire ratings of 1 hour or more, the assembly must also pass a hose stream test to mimic fire­fight­ing con­di­tions and measure an wall assem­bly’s integrity and ability not to collapse during a fire.
  • The ASTM E2257 is a standard fire test that shows how much the indoor wall and ceiling materials cause a fire to grow in an area and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of the fire spreading beyond the area. 
  • Other standards for fire resis­tance include the NFPA 286: Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Eval­u­at­ing Con­tri­bu­tion of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth, the NFPA 101: Life Safety Code and ASTM E84: Surface Burning Char­ac­ter­is­tics of Building Materials.

By itself, EPS foam insu­la­tion is not an effective material for creating a fire resistant wall assembly. The fire resis­tance of EPS foam insu­la­tion is based on its per­for­mance in end-use con­di­tions along with its chemical nature and to a greater extent its physical state. Therefore, the fire resis­tance per­for­mance of EPS depends on the complete building wall assembly. Methods for creating a fire resistant EPS wall with a high fire rating include installing a fire barrier like half-inch thick (1.27 cm) gypsum wallboard over the EPS board or com­plete­ly encap­su­lat­ing the EPS, like the Bautex Blocks. When installed correctly, with the right fire­proof­ing, EPS does not present a fire hazard or risk of smoke density or toxicity.

Bautex Blocks Achieves a Four Hour Rating with its EPS Composite Concrete Blocks

The Bautex™ Wall Systems is a 90 percent EPS composite concrete block that provides sig­nif­i­cant fire resistant without the need for an ignition barrier or other fire­proof­ing materials. Bautex Blocks also do not burn or create dangerous smoke con­di­tions when exposed to fire. Bautex Blocks have an ASTM E119 fire rating of four hours (four times the typical one hour require­ment), and an ASTM E84 reported values for flame speed of zero and smoke devel­op­ment of twenty. Because the Blocks meet the ASTM E84 and NFPA 286 they meet the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. Along with excellent fire resistant capa­bil­i­ties, the Bautex Wall Systems exceeds the energy effi­cien­cy require­ments of the ASHRAE 90.1, limit thermal con­vec­tion, are easy to install, noise reducing and storm-resistant. The Bautex Wall System is a smart and cost effective solution for designing a high-per­for­mance building that is both energy efficient and fire resistant.

Building codes specify a wall’s fire rating based on the walls location in the structure. The codes also mandate walls made of non­com­bustible materials, including the insu­la­tion. However, insu­la­tion, like EPS, is flammable if not installed correctly with a fire barrier or incor­po­rat­ed in a material like cement. Bautex Blocks combine EPS, which is highly insu­lat­ing, and cement, which is durable and fire resistant. Bautex Wall Systems creates a fire resistant wall that ensures the safety of those that work and live in a structure, along with the integrity of the building. Visit Bautex Wall Systems for more infor­ma­tion on fire resistant construction.