The fire resistance of ceiling products requires special attention to safeguard buildings and protect lives.
Lafarge South Africa is the local presence of the international Lafarge Group, the world leader in building materials. The company’s ambition is to build better cities; cities that are more beautiful, more durable, more connected and more compact. Lafarge offers many solutions to building better cities. The primary purpose of fire resistance in any building is protecting human lives and taking comprehensive fire safety measures is crucial.
According to Jean-Paul Croze, managing director of Lafarge Gypsum South Africa, fire resistance in ceiling products requires special attention, as a ceiling structure that collapses in the event of a fire will injure anyone below it.
“It’s critical to ensure that support elements are within the recommended specifications to prevent broken pieces from falling down and injuring anyone,” he says. “For the purposes of human safety and insurance company requirements, most construction projects are now compliant over and above the minimum requirements of the National Building Regulations.”
Architects and builders must take into account fire resistance with regard to non-loadbearing and loadbearing walls and floors. “The load bearing components include protection of steel columns and frames,” says Croze, highlighting that fire safety considerations must include the following issues:
• Allowing people to evacuate safely from buildings, which relates to the time in the fire resistance tests as stipulated per SANS 10177: Part II.
• To prevent the spread of flames, which is covered by the spread of flames test as stipulated per SANS 10177: Part III.
• Excessive generation of smoke and heat, as well as ignition, must be prevented as these will affect the safe evacuation of people from buildings. These areas are covered by the non-combustibility tests (SANS 10177-Part V) and the fire resistance tests (SANS 10177: Part II).
Lafarge has independently tested wall and ceiling systems that provide 30, 60 and 120 minutes of fire resistance, in accordance with SANS 10400: Part T: South African National Building Regulations.
“Safety is the cornerstone of our commitment to building better cities,” states Croze. “As such, Lafarge offers all fire solutions as certified systems to clients, which automatically qualifies the clients for the ten-year Lafarge warranty. However, there’s no sense in having a SANS certification on a product proved to withstand two hours of fire if the structure that it intends to protect loses strength and loadbearing ability or ignite due to failure to insulate structures against the heat from the fire.”
Lafarge Gypsum South Africa recommends the insulation of light-gauge steel structural elements with cladding to prevent them from reaching 385°C and losing structural integrity. The insulation property of the system also plays a big role in preventing surfaces of wall cladding away from the fire from reaching temperatures that could burn anyone touching them.
“Lafarge systems further reduce the incidence of cracking that would allow flames, smoke and gases to seep through, and cause a fire to spread and toxic gasses from reaching the adjacent rooms, resulting in possible loss of life,” says Croze.
As an ecospecifier-listed company, Lafarge Gypsum believes that greater strength and fire protection for interior walls and ceilings, as well as enhanced protection against mould and mildew, are all part of the environmental initiatives designed to protect and please the people who will eventually live and work in these buildings.
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