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As a safety precaution, many building codes need fireproofing protection for structural steel. Spray-applied fire-resistive materials (SFRM) are the most popular way to provide this protection in the U.S. Spraying the product on steel can provide heat resistance. It can also be used over wood, fabric, and other building materials. The required coat thickness is determined by building codes. The sprays can be divided into wet or dry spray materials. This describes how the material is mixed, applied, and maintained.

Sprays aren’t the only option. Depending on the circumstances, there are other options that can be better than commonly used sprays. They are worth looking into.

Concrete aerated by autoclave

Aerated concrete can be used to enhance fire resistance, particularly around steel columns. When installed between the flanges, and connected to the web of the rolled sections, this concrete can provide fireproofing properties.

Concrete can be poured between the steel components’ flanges using shear connections to the steel web. This is useful for those who have higher fire resistance requirements. The concrete being placed must be kept at the bottom area of the connection.

Concrete

Although this option is less popular than it was in the past, it can still be useful for certain projects. This requires more space due to the amount of concrete required and is less visually appealing than other options. Large parking garages, for example, are not as concerned about these issues and may still use this method.

You can add additional fire protection to concrete-supported flanges by adding reinforcements such as rebar.   

Coatings with Intumescent Features

This method, also known as intumescent painting, provides fire resistance for structural steel members. Intumescent coatings can expand up to 100 times their original thickness, which provides superior fire resistance. This buffer is created between the fire and the members. When exposed to extreme temperatures, the coating will undergo a chemical reaction. However, the coating will not expand if the temperature exceeds that which could cause damage to the steel’s integrity.

Intumescent coatings can be a great option when aesthetics are important with steel that is exposed to the public. It is applied in the same way as paint. Each layer adds to the overall thickness. This fireproofing product can also be used on structural wood.

Liquid Convection Cooling

Liquid convection cooling was first patented in 1921. It involves running water, antifreeze, and a rust inhibitor through hollow structural members. The hot liquid will rise if there is a fire. This allows cooler water to flow into the area of the structure that has been affected by the fire and reduces the temperature of the members.

International Building Code

The International Building Code (IBC), is used by most U.S. municipalities and other jurisdictions as the basis for their standards. The IBC is updated three times a year and was most recently updated in 2018.

Based on the results of tests, building materials and fireproofing methods are typically rated in minutes. If a fireproofing method has a rating of 60 minutes, it means that it must maintain structural integrity for at most 60 minutes. The higher the rating, obviously, the longer it takes to evacuate and extinguish the fire, while also limiting the damage.

Actual building requirements will vary depending on the intended use of the building, its location, and other factors.

Flexible Blanket Systems

Flexible blankets that have been specifically designed can be used to fireproof. They are easy to install and maintain. While this is a practical and efficient method, only a few manufacturers make it. This application is able to meet nearly all safety codes and standards. It provides a cost-effective, reliable way to stop a fire from spreading to structural members. When dealing with complicated shapes, blanket systems may be an option.

Fireproofing with rigid boards

It is quick and easy to install rigid board fireproofing. It can be used in conjunction with the installation of steel beams and decks. Rigid board fireproofing is able to meet all your fireproofing needs. It also provides thermal and acoustic protection. This type of fireproofing is mechanically fastened and can protect against pests and termites. You can also get it in different thicknesses to satisfy UL requirements. It can withstand humidity and moisture without losing its fire-stopping properties. You can design boards to exact dimensions and include decorative finishes.

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