“Fire Reactants”: Filling A Fire Protection Gap

For decades, fire prevention efforts have focused primarily on three areas: detection, suppression and public fire education. However, despite advances in detection and suppression technology, there remains a gap in the overall scope of fire protection...


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To prove the point, Kish used two models of a room corner that were built using conventional construction methods. Placed in each model was an average-size recliner chair with a polyester-blended fabric cover and polyurethane foam cushions. A few sheets of newspaper were placed in each chair. Each model also had a curtain hung on the wall. The walls of both models were painted using No-Burn Plus intumescent (bubbling) paint. One chair and curtain were treated using No-Burn Fabric Fire Gard and the other chair and curtain were not treated. Kish noted that in most home fires started by a cigarette or child playing with matches, the fast- spreading fire will quickly leave its point of origin because of the speed at which most home furnishings burn.

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Photo courtesy of No-Burn Inc.
The untreated house. This structure was allowed to burn for six minutes before the fire was put out with a water can. Notice the deep charring of the top plate, the walls are all burned through, the paper is completely consumed in the bottom of the house and the overall damage is extensive.

Within 20 seconds of igniting both models, there was a definite difference between the two. The untreated chair immediately started to burn, melting the fabric cover off the cushion and seat back and exposing the polyurethane foam underneath. The polyurethane foam started to burn vigorously, quickly spreading the fire beyond its point of origin. In the No-Burn-treated chair, however, all that burned were the newspapers.

“Notice the smoke production between the two models,” Kish said. “When No-Burn reacts to a fire and goes through the chemical chain reaction to form the protective barrier, because it does not allow the fire to use the treated material as fuel to burn, it can eliminate up to 80% of the smoke production of a regular fire.”

The unprotected chair was completely consumed in less than four minutes. The walls were charred over as the intumescent paint foamed up and remained intact on the wall. The No-Burn-treated chair and curtain sustained some charring from the fire, but the fire never left the point of origin. The front, back and sides of the chair did not sustain any fire damage. On the wall, the intumescent paint only charred a 15-by-15-inch area.

In another test, Kish placed three two-by-two-foot model houses next to each other. One house was left untreated, one was treated with No-Burn Wood Gard and one was painted using No-Burn Plus. Fires were lit in the two treated houses first. The untreated house was lit last to show how fast a fire doubles in size within an untreated structure. Within four minutes, the fires in the treated structures completely consumed the newspapers and went out.

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Photo courtesy of No-Burn Inc.
The No-Burn Wood Gard house. An intumescent char barrier is visible in the areas where the fire was in direct contact with the structure. The remainder of the newspapers can be seen in the bottom, but there was no structural damage to the house.

“This is a perfect example of how fire reactants do not allow a fire to use the structure as a fuel source,” Kish said. The untreated structure continued to burn. At five minutes, the fire extended through the roof structure and the sides of the exterior sheathing and the test was stopped. “Even with a four- to five-minute response time, you can see how much damage an untreated structure can sustain and that is only after the fire is detected,” Kish said.

Who Is Taking Note?

With fire reactant technology being able to minimize the damage from fire, the insurance industry is taking note. On Sept. 18, 2003, officials from No-Burn conducted live-burn exercises in Springfield, MO, along with representatives from the insurance industry. The Brookline Fire Department hosted the event and was on hand for the tests. Three 10-by-12-foot houses were constructed and fully furnished. Two of the houses were left untreated and one was treated throughout with No-Burn. Fires were set in each house and allowed to burn without intervention from the fire department. The two untreated houses burned to the ground in about 50 minutes.

The house treated with No-Burn took over seven hours to burn and the live-burn instructors had to use an accelerant and combustible materials to get the structure to sustain any measurable amount of fire damage. The insurance industry representatives stated that with such protection, most fire claims could easily be reduced by 30% to 50% because the fire did not damage any of the structural components in the home, even when an accelerant was used. Kraemer agreed, saying, “The use of such products will soon change the way that the insurance industry will charge consumers for insuring their property.”