Fire Resistance Level
In Australia, refractory elements are provided with a fire resistance level (FRL) in accordance with the Building Code of Australia or BCA which forms part of the National Construction Code.
Commercial buildings in Australia must meet the standards set out in the National Construction Code. These include stringent regulations regarding fire protection systems, elements and fire protection materials that can be used in commercial buildings.
They must comply with AS 4072.1 (Components for the protection of openings in fire-resistant separating elements)
According to the BCA, commercial buildings are classified into different classes. For example, office buildings are classified as Class 5 and retail buildings, including restaurants, as Class 6 buildings. Each class of building must meet a specific fire safety requirement.
The FRL indicates how well an element can withstand a fire under test conditions. In the FRL, each component receives three numbers. These figures represent structural appropriateness, integrity and isolation. Structural adequacy refers to how long a component can withstand the spread of a fire and remain structurally sound. Each number indicates how long and how tiny the device supports what it was designed for.
Note that windows and doors are not structural elements, so if they are not held against a wall, they do not get a number for structural adequacy. There is a place for a number of non-structural elements. ie the architectural, mechanical and electrical components of a building that directly cater to human needs.
Integrity refers to the component that prevents the spread of flames and hot gases. For example, a window in an FRL is not expected to fail in 60 minutes, but the integrity of the insulation category could be exposed to fire. Insulation refers to a component that prevents the spread of fire and heat transfer.
Fire Windows, fire doors and other fire protection elements must be subjected to rigorous tests according to specific specifications. These tests are designed to assess how well a product resists the spread of fire, reduces heat transfer and contains smoke. The testing of fire protection elements takes place under conditions that imitate real fire conditions. Tests are still needed to assess the durability and performance of products.
In Australia, fire tests are carried out by accredited authorities and organisations. These are carried out as per AS 1530.4 ( Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures)
Fire Control in Commercial Buildings
Fire protection elements fall into one of two categories: active or passive fire control. This type of fire protection system is indispensable for commercial buildings of any kind.
Active Fire Control refers to elements that need to be activated in order to function. Activating an active Fire Protection Element works by containing, suppressing or extinguishing a fire. This can happen automatically, such as triggering an alarm. It can also be activated manually, e.g. With a fire extinguisher. Passive Fire Control refers to the elements that function automatically and do not require activation.
Examples of passive fire protection systems are glass fire doors, burning windows and intumescent paint. Fire doors play a crucial role in the passive fire protection of commercial buildings. Fire doors are made of a range of materials such as wood, steel and glass and must comply with strict standards and regulations, namely AS 1905.1 (Components for the protection of openings in fire resistant walls and doorsets) Door set elements to be inspected include frames, visors, handles and other fittings. These elements are important for dividing the building, preventing it from spreading and creating safe passages for people to evacuate.
Glass fire doors are popular in commercial spaces where visibility and natural light are an important factor. Fire protection windows are designed to resist the spread of fire. Fire protection windows allow natural light and clear visibility in commercial buildings. Fire resistant windows are manufactured with fire resistant glazing and special glass panes with fire resistant coating. Specialized burning glass is used because untreated glass can explode at high heat.
The thickness of the fire-resistant layer determines how well the window resists the spread of fire.
Fire-resistant windows are available in various fire-resistant levels, including 30%, 30-60%, 60%, 60-90%, 90%, 90-120% and 120%. Intumescent paints, also known as refractory coatings, protect the building materials in the event of fire. When exposed to high heat, the intumescent coating expands and insulates the structure. It is a proven method of protecting steel structures. Although it is not fireproof, it plays a key role in preserving the structural adequacy of steel structures by slowing destruction by fire.
Fire curtains are available in a range of designs suitable for commercial spaces, including vertical, horizontal and accordion boundary lights. Fire curtains can be activated in the event of a fire and play an important role in buildings. When activated, fire curtains help to divide large open spaces. This is important to slow the spread of fire and improve the effectiveness of other systems such as fire sprinklers and the protection of the building fabric itself. Modern fire safety curtains, are designed to be inconspicuous in their inactivated state.
When it comes to fire protection for commercial buildings, trust the experts, Complete Fire and Pumps provides professional services and fast delivery of the highest quality fire protection products in Australia. Fire protection systems for commercial buildings are essential to save lives and protect the building fabric in the event of fire. At Complete Fire and Pumps, we develop robust and reliable fire protection systems for commercial premises.
Yours in Fire Safety