Essay On Fire Protection & Prevention

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Essay on fire prevention is better than cure

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Fire Protection Essay


In this essay I will explain what measures have been taken in order to protect buildings from structural failure due to fires, in terms of fire retardant materials. I will explain how these materials chemically work and the reason for their use and where applied. The purpose of this essay is to discuss how these materials can prevent deaths or injuries. However it should be noted that only the main methods of fire protection will be mentioned, as this essay is not meant to be exhaustive. I should also point out that these methods do not singly stop a fire, and that most retardant materials need to work together in order to slow down the spreading of a fire throughout a building.

Fire Safety

Each year about 800 people die and a further 9000 are injured as a cause of fire related activities in the UK. Fatal fires conclude that the design of the building plays a vital part in determining the catastrophe of a fire. Building regulations are mainly concerned with controlling the spread of a fire to ensure the safety of those in the building and their safe escape in a period of time. In order to ensure this, materials of the components used in a building need to be taken into consideration.

Regulations prohibit the use of materials that encourage spread of flame across their surfaces when subject to intense heat. There are 2 main ways of combating fires;

*Passive measures - contain the fire and prevent structural collapse - e.g. fire resisting floors and walls

*Active measures - control the fire itself and / or facilitate the evacuation of occupants e.g. sprinklers, smoke control fans.

Passive measures are the foundation of fire safety design, essentially fire resistant materials such as concrete are vital. Thus this essay will focus more on passive measures, and materials used on site.

Fire Resistant Materials

Cement, steel, bricks and even stone will distort or change physically in some way due to their chemical properties when temperatures are high enough. The object of flame resisting is to reduce the possible start of a fire or flame from spreading and becoming an inferno. Fires spread due to the flames and heat from burning material, igniting other flammable materials.

All products today are intended to hinder flame in fabrics, wood, etc, and are intended to set up a thermal barrier to reduce fire spreading and essentially allow some additional time for humans to escape burning buildings.

- Timber

Wood for example is a combustible material used on most sites and when it burns, a layer of char is created which helps to protect the wood and maintain the strength and structural integrity of the wood. This is the reason why a heavy timber system can be left exposed and still achieve a fire-resistance rating of up to 90 minutes. However not all wood types have the same characteristics...

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