Using Fire Retardants In Building & Construction

Fire retardants have potential to stop or slow down the spread of fire. It provides critical escape time in event of fire which is important especially for the vulnerable population. Using fire retardants is crucial today because modern homes, with the increase in electronic products alone, present a greater risk of fire dangers. Today, Fire Retardants are predominantly used in 4 main areas:

1. Electronically Operating Devices – Including Televisions, Refrigerators, Battery Chargers, and Circuit Boards etc.
2. Construction Material – Wires and Cables, Insulation Materials, Structural and Decorative Material, Metal Composite Panels etc.
3. Furnishings – Foam Upholstery, Carpets, Curtains etc.
4. Transportation – Overhead Compartments, Roof Liners, Insulation Panels, Car Bumpers etc.

We shall further highlight how Fire retardants play major role in Building & Construction:

In Electrical Wiring – With changing structure and construction pattern, the designs of building are becoming more complex. These designs include lot of wiring and cables to support various functions like elevators, phones and computer points, generators etc. These electrical wires and cables are usually bundled together so that they can run vertically across the floors behind the walls of the structure; this increases the potential risk of short circuit and fire due to electrical malfunction. Also, since these wires are hidden they cannot be checked or maintained regularly, further adding to the risk. To reduce/counter these risks, builders use plastic insulation treated with fire retardants to coat wires and cables so that the spark or flame does not spread along the protective covering for conductors and cables, usually made of plastic.

In Structural Insulation – Use of Insulation not only helps to maintain comfortable temperatures in homes, offices but also helps to combat rising costs of energy and an emphases on energy conservation and the environment. Among various insulating materials available in market, polystyrene foam boards and rigid polyurethane foam panels are preferred ones as they perform well and also are cost-effective. Fire retardants in these applications help provide necessary fire-resistant characteristics thus slowing the spread of fire and providing escape time for individuals to evacuate a building or premise in case of emergency.

In Structural Elements – A variety of structural elements in homes, offices and public buildings consist of materials like Steel, Wood, Plaster, Metal Sheets, etc which without protection, would be a fire hazard if they come in contact with an ignition source. However, with evolution in technology and increasing importance of safety in construction, Builders use Fire Retardant Panels also known as FR Panels to create structures. The Panels are easy to maintain, light in weight and also aesthetically appealing. FR Panels are filled with a mineral core which reduces the intensity and spread of fire with low smoke emission and a non- toxic smoke facilitates safer escape routes and facilitate to better fire fighting approach.

Thus, it can be said that with rising awareness we are moving towards safer and fire proof construction techniques and technologies.

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