Improve your fire protection with fire retardant paint
Australia is known for its long hot summers and the bushfire danger that comes with them. Bushfire season is getting longer and more intense, but fire in Australia is not confined to the summer months; an average of 5,000 fires per week are burning across our wide brown land. It is not just bushfires that threaten Australian properties, either. Of the 100,000 fire incidents attended by fire agencies each year, 20,000 are for structure fires. The five most common causes of home fires are unattended cooking, smoking in bedrooms, candles, heating, and mechanical/electrical failure. As well as active fire protection such as working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, you can also protect your property with passive fire protection measures such as fire retardant paint (aka flame retardant paint). Passive fire protection measures:
- Give vital extra time to evacuate the building
- Minimize property damage
- Allow the fire fighters more time to arrive and get the fire under control
In this article we look at how fire retardant paint works and where to find fire retardant paint products and applicators in Australia.
The fireproofing mechanism behind fire retardant paint
For a fire to start and propagate it requires three things: oxygen, heat, and fuel. Fire retardant paint works to prevent or halt the spread of flame across a surface by releasing a flame extinguishing or flame damping gas when exposed to the heat of a fire, depriving the fire of oxygen and not contributing as fuel. It can be applied to bare substrate or as part of a fireproof coating system when combined with intumescent paint (a fireproof coating which swells and insulates when exposed to fire). The gas prevents flames from spreading and burning the underlying substrate, and resists ignition.
Fire retardant paint is categorised by the amount of time it actively works to combat flames. Once the flame damping gases are exhausted, the effect of the coating is lost. A fire retardant paint needs to:
- Prevent flame spreading further than 165mm from the point of ignition in the test time of 10 minutes (a Class 1 fire rating based on British Standard 476 pt 7)
- Does not propagate the fire, limiting the amount of heat released from a surface during a fire
If the coating meets both these requirements it is categorised as Class 0 under BS476, meaning it protects from the spread of flames and from fire propagation. Fire retardant paint for wood is the most common fire rated coating used for timber and wooden substrates because, unlike intumescent, it comes in clear varnishes. A fire retardant paint for wood can be used as a sealer or as a final coat.
Australian Standards for Fire Resistance
The Australian Standards require different Fire Resistance Levels (FRL) for different building elements, and for different construction types. The Building Code of Australia lists Fire Resistance Levels for building elements which are based on time – intervals of 30, 60, 90, 120, and 240 minutes. For example, a 90/30/60 FRL means an element must achieve a fire resistance level of 90 minutes for structural adequacy, 30 minutes for integrity and 60 minutes for insulation.
Construction type is divided into three categories: A, B, and C. These are determined by the building class and height in storeys. Type A is the highest risk type, including high rises and high occupant buildings and so requires the highest level of fire resistance. Type C is the lowest risk and has far lower requirements for fire resistance. A fire retardant paint alone may not satisfy these requirements, and a professional should always be consulted when you are determining fire resistance measures.
For more information about the Australian Standards and how they apply to your building, please visit out fireproof paint overview page.
Fire retardant paint products and specialists in Australia
Building owners and architects can satisfy building regulations by contracting certified fitters for the job. Only a professional applicator can provide certification for their work. For a local look at fire resistant paint specialists we have dedicated pages for both Melbourne and Sydney. Below is a sample list of fire retardant coating specialists across Australia, including those specifically providing fire retardant paint for wood substrates.
If you need fire rated coating protection for a project and are looking to source a professional, get in touch! Our experts are here to help, and our quotation service is 100% free. Simply use the “Request a Quote” button beneath this article to get things started. Let us, in collaboration with our coating partners, find the coating solution for your needs.
|Fire Protection Paint Company||Location||Services|
|CAP Fire Rated Coatings||Ettalong Beach, NSW 2257||Fire rated paint applicators for interiors and exteriors|
|Cyndan Master Touch||Brookvale, NSW 2100||Clear fire retardant coating applicators for soft timbers, meeting requirements for bushfire-resisting timbers|
|Ol’ Painting||Neutral Bay, NSW, 2089||Fire rated paint applicators for 60 and 90 minutes of protection|
|Portolesi Structural||Hindmarsh, South Australia 5007||Passive fire protection coatings and treatments for structural steel and concrete|
|Zoran the Painter||Sydney, New South Wales||Fire rated paint applicators using products such as Fire Free 88|