07 Feb Non-combustibility is a priority
According to the Malaysia Fire and Rescue Department (FRD)’s statistics, on average, between 30,000 and 60,000 fire incidents are reported every year; from private homes, offices, factories, schools to shophouses. Where maximum fire safety is required, certain building elements like insulation should always be constructed of non-combustible materials as it makes up a large surface area in a building. And this means, the insulation installed plays a vital role in determining the severity of a fire spread. Ideally, a building should prioritize the usage of non-combustible materials; especially on components and parts that will make up a big part of the structure.
To inhibit fire spread, maintain structural integrity, and limit the spread of fire and smoke from one area to another, non-combustible building solutions are the way to go. Not only do they provide safe buildings for occupants, they are an added peace of mind for specifiers. Most countries have developed detailed legislation regarding fire-safe construction because they recognize the importance of fire safety. During the construction of a building, a comprehensive fire strategy is considered and needs to be implemented in order to protect people’s lives and help to quantify losses in case of fire. A fire break out can spread even more rapidly if the fire rating of the building material is overlooked, be it a business premise or a residential building.
Non-combustible insulation can offer high resistance to penetration by fire, which in turn protects other building materials against the fires. If there is insufficient or damaged compartmentation, then smoke and flames can easily move between rooms and floors. One factor that fuels the speed of fire spread is the presence of flammable or combustible materials both inside a building and within its external walls. Therefore to slow down the chaos, it is tantamount to incorporate non-combustible insulation, which could eventually be saving valuable lives.
Besides, non-combustible insulation also plays a part in not being the source of life-threatening toxic smoke when in contact with fire. Avoiding exposure to smoke is one of the primary fire safety strategies of a building. Regardless of its origin or composition, the main cause of death in fatal fires is excessive smoke inhalation, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Non-combustible insulation is one of the solutions in limiting smoke exposure which then helps reduce fire fatalities. The most effective approach to keep smoke intoxication low is the holistic approach, starting with prevention and continuing with smoke compartmentation and management.
Non-combustible insulation does not fuel or spread the fire, but instead provides additional time for evacuation. If flammable materials are present, a fire can get out of control in a shorter amount of time starting from the first point of ignition to its entire surroundings. Specifying insulation systems that effectively contribute to passive fire protection offers the potential to save lives. These systems provide valuable extra time which could be used for occupants evacuation, the activation of first responders, and help prevent structural collapse caused by fire.
Looking back at the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in 2017 and the most recent Milan Tower blaze in 2021, high rise buildings that use flammable building material can pose a high risk and life-threatening scenario because it feeds a burning fire. High rise buildings are currently one of the most sensible space-saving solutions in urban areas with the ever growing population. The number of high rise buildings will continuously increase along with the rapid urbanization of cities around the world. Hence, non-combustible building materials will now play an even more important role because it contributes to reducing the fire hazard risk in high-rise buildings.
While HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) systems are commonly used to maintain a comfortable indoor environment in commercial properties, these ductwork systems travel through a multitude of rooms within a building like blood vessels through a body, penetrating compartment walls and floors. However, these vital networks are potentially the best pathway to spread fire, hot gases, and smoke during a fire. In the event of a fire, it is crucial to have effective fire resilient insulation to minimise fire spreading. Therefore, on top of preventing condensation, reducing thermal transfer and unwanted noises within the HVAC system, the non-combustible nature of PGF Insulation Ecowool’s glass mineral wool offers additional protection in fire safety.
Asbestos was once widely used for structural elements in buildings, for example support beam cladding, firebreaks, doors, ceiling coatings, and etc. This is due to the strength of asbestos fiber and its resistance to heat. However, asbestos has since been retired due to the health hazards they may present to the building occupants if the asbestos fibers were to be inhaled. Glass mineral wool is now one of the most ideal material that falls under the category of non-combustible insulation.
With its major component being made from glass, Ecowool has an exceptionally high melting point and service temperature up to 450°C. The best part of this? Ecowool products are certified as BOMBA Class ‘O’, for an added peace of mind.