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.