Fire barriers: 5 myths debunked

by Ofentse Sefolo
Fire barriers: 5 myths debunked

Without appropriate fire precautions, a burning building can be destroyed very quickly. Aluglass Bautech highlights some of the myths around fire-rated doors, partitions and windows, and also gives advice on how to select appropriate fire barriers.
1.    Fire-rated doors, partitions or windows are unnecessary.
Not only are these products necessary to contain the spread of fire in a building for safety reasons, it is also a legal requirement. SANS 10400: Part T – Fire Protection Standard requires that occupants should be protected and that the building maintains its structural integrity as much as possible. In addition, the blaze should not spread to adjoining buildings.

2.    Fire-rated doors make areas look ugly.
Many modern fire doors are designed with aesthetics in mind. They can be installed in single- or double-leaf configurations, and decorated with range of finishes including viewing panels of fire-rated glass.

3.    Glass cannot hold back a fire.
Fire-rated glass is very effective at keeping an inferno at bay and can last as long as some fire doors.

There are two types: 1. a fire resistant glass which offers integrity and will not fail for up to 2 hours. 2. A fire retardant glass which offers radiation control and integrity. Radiant heat can cause spontaneous combustion on the non-fire side of the screen.

4.    A fire door is the same as an acoustic door.
Although fire doors can also have acoustic properties, it is not a given. An acoustic door is designed to dampen sound but has no ability to withstand heat and flames, while fire-rated doors are specifically designed to keep heat and smoke at bay.

5.    Walls are as effective as fire partitions.
Even though the bricks in a building can resist a fair amount of heat exposure, the cement in-between often fails quickly. Walls can also lose tension when the roof support beams are engulfed, causing them to collapse. Firewalls are reinforced and can extend from the bottom to the top of a building to keep the building standing when other walls fail.

3 Criteria for selecting acoustic fire doors
Different situations call for different doors, but there are certain criteria that should always be upheld:

1.    Integrity:
This measures how well the door, including its lock, stays together. A failure happens when gaps of more than 10mm start to appear.

2.    Stability:
This measures how well the door remains in its frame, based on the types of flames appearing and how often they appear.

3.    Insulation:
This measures how much heat the door can withstand and not radiate to its unexposed side.

Because testing conditions vary, fire doors are arranged in different classes. For example, the Varikust VK62F is a Class A door with a 43dB acoustic rating, which could uphold the above criteria for over an hour. On the other hand, the Varikust VK105F is a Class D door, with an optional 48 or 51dB acoustic insulation rating, and passes the same criteria for at least two hours.

For this reason VK105F doors are designed to serve as emergency exits, while the VK62F door is better suited for hotel room doors.

Contact Aluglass Bautech for more information and advice.

Aluglass Bautech (Pty) Limited
Tel: 011 451 8400
Email: mailbox@aluglass.co.za
Website: www.aluglass.co.za

Aluglass Bautech – ENGINEERING QUIET SINCE 1973!

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