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.