Life Safety

Four Hour Fire Wall Construction

Pro­tect­ing a build­ing and its occu­pants from fire and smoke is a top pri­or­i­ty for today’s archi­tects and con­trac­tors. Whether the project is new con­struc­tion or remod­el, the over­all design should reduce the spread of fire and smoke dur­ing a fire emer­gency. There are two pri­ma­ry forms of fire pro­tec­tion for build­ings: pas­sive and active. Pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion lim­its the trans­fer of heat or smoke from one area of a build­ing to anoth­er through fire resis­tant con­struc­tion. Active fire pro­tec­tion includes auto­mat­ic sprin­kler sys­tems, fire extin­guish­ers, stand­pipes, etc. There are also sev­er­al fire pro­tec­tions aimed at spe­cif­ic parts of a build­ing.

  • Struc­tur­al fire pro­tec­tion defends the essen­tial parts of the build­ing like the struc­tur­al steel and joint sys­tems with either an appli­ca­tion of fire­proof­ing mate­r­i­al or build­ing the struc­ture with con­crete
  • Fire pro­tect­ed doors and win­dows act as effec­tive smoke and fire bar­ri­ers
  • Firestop­ping mate­ri­als pro­tect the fire bar­ri­ers from poten­tial fire spread through the bar­ri­er due to mechan­i­cal, elec­tri­cal, and plumb­ing pen­e­tra­tions.

Archi­tects, design­ers, and con­trac­tors use a com­bi­na­tion of all these meth­ods of fire pro­tec­tion to pre­serve a building’s struc­ture and enhance the safe­ty of its occu­pants.

Passive Fire Protection Contains the Fire

Dur­ing fire emer­gen­cies, pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion shields those inside and defends the struc­ture by lim­it­ing the spread of fire and smoke. Pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion includes fire bar­ri­ers, fire par­ti­tions, smoke bar­ri­ers, hor­i­zon­tal assem­blies, and fire­walls. While pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion is usu­al­ly invis­i­ble to the occu­pants, its sig­nif­i­cance in sav­ing lives and pro­tect­ing prop­er­ty is clear when a fire occurs. Pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion stops the spread of fire and smoke through ver­ti­cal open­ings, like shafts. It also pre­vents the col­lapse of the build­ing. When fire-resis­tive con­struc­tion is prop­er­ly done and main­tained, a build­ing’s pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion can save the build­ing and lives.

Wall Assemblies are Essential to a Buildings Fire Protection

An impor­tant part of com­mer­cial build­ing design is pas­sive fire-resis­tant con­struc­tion. The main area of atten­tion for pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion sys­tems is the wall assem­blies. Accord­ing to today’s build­ing codes, wall assem­blies must be test­ed by indus­try stan­dards to eval­u­ate their fire resis­tance. Two indus­try stan­dards judge the fire resis­tance of wall assem­blies: Two indus­try stan­dards judge the fire resis­tance of wall assem­blies: the ASTM E2257 Stan­dard Test Method for Room Fire Test of Wall and Ceil­ing Mate­ri­als and Assem­blies, and the ASTM E119, Fire Tests of Build­ing Con­struc­tion and Mate­ri­als.

  • ASTM E2257 is a fire test that deter­mines how much the wall and ceil­ing mate­ri­als or assem­blies con­tribute to fire growth in a space and the pos­si­bil­i­ty for fire to spread beyond the area, under sim­u­lat­ed con­di­tions.
  • ASTM E119 (and-and ULC-S101) estab­lish­es a wall assembly’s abil­i­ty to stop a fire from spread­ing. Build­ing codes assign fire rat­ings to fire sen­si­tive areas in walls, par­ti­tions, floor/​ceilings, and roofs. The rat­ings show an assembly’s rel­a­tive abil­i­ty to stay intact, when exposed to fire under a con­trolled sit­u­a­tion, for one, two or more hours. The ASTM E‑119 test involves expos­ing the assem­blies to con­trolled heat until the aver­age tem­per­a­ture mea­sured on the unex­posed side of the test sam­ple increas­es by 250° F, the heat, flame or gas­es escape to the unex­posed side, or the sam­ple col­laps­es under load. For a fire rat­ings of 1 hour or more, the assem­bly must also pass a hose stream test to mim­ic fire­fight­ing conditions.The hose stream test deter­mines the abil­i­ty of an assem­bly not to col­lapse dur­ing a fire.

Addi­tion­al stan­dards include the NFPA 286: Stan­dard Meth­ods of Fire Tests for Eval­u­at­ing Con­tri­bu­tion of Wall and Ceil­ing Inte­ri­or Fin­ish to Room Fire Growth, and the NFPA 101 Life Safe­ty Code and ASTM E84 – Sur­face Burn­ing Char­ac­ter­is­tics of Build­ing Mate­ri­als.

The NFPA 286 applies specif­i­cal­ly to the test­ing of mate­r­i­al with fire and is unique to walls and ceilings.The stan­dard deter­mines how much the room’s dif­fer­ent ele­ments on the walls and ceil­ings con­tribute to the spread of fire, includ­ing the wall­pa­per. The NFPA 286 stan­dard helps fire­fight­ers deter­mine the amount of time they need to put out a fire.

The NFPA 101 is the only doc­u­ment that cov­ers life safe­ty in both new and exist­ing struc­tures with pro­vi­sions for all types of dwellings, egress require­ments, fire pro­tec­tion fea­tures, emer­gency light­ing, sprin­kler sys­tems, alarms, smoke bar­ri­ers, and spe­cial haz­ard pro­tec­tion.

ASTM E84 – Sur­face Burn­ing Char­ac­ter­is­tics of Build­ing Mate­ri­als. The pur­pose of the method is to deter­mine the rel­a­tive burn­ing behav­ior of the mate­r­i­al by observ­ing its flame spread. The test reports flame spread and smoke den­si­ty.

Bautex Wall System Provides Effective Passive Fire Protection

An excel­lent option for pas­sive fire­wall pro­tec­tion is Bau­tex Blocks. Bau­tex Blocks meet and exceed indus­try’s stan­dard for fire resis­tance. They have an ASTM E119 fire rat­ing of four hours (twice the two hour require­ment) and an ASTM E84 report­ed val­ues for flame speed of zero and smoke devel­op­ment of twen­ty. Because the blocks meet the E84 and NFPA 286 they essen­tial­ly meet the NFPA 101 code. Bau­tex Blocks can be used to build inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or walls for com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion. Along with excel­lent fire resis­tant capa­bil­i­ties, the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem deliv­ers ener­gy effi­cien­cy, sound reduc­tion, and resis­tance to mois­ture and the wind.

Prepar­ing for the pos­si­ble out­break of fire in a build­ing with fire-resis­tant con­struc­tion is a crit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion for archi­tects, con­trac­tors and the own­ers of the structure.The goal of both pas­sive and active fire pro­tec­tion is to pro­tect lives and the build­ing. A com­bi­na­tion of fire pro­tec­tion meth­ods when build­ing or remod­el­ing is the best defense for pro­tect­ing a struc­ture and those inside from the spread of fire and smoke.