A fire can be tragic in any residential structure, the potential consequences in a condominium building, school campus or multi-family dwelling are particularly serious. Any reasonable measure that prevents the spread of flames from one unit to another is welcomed by owners, managers, designers and fire officials.

Building codes have long recognized this hazard and require construction classified as "noncombustible" for certain structural components of condominiums.

For some of these applications, several alternatives are acceptable. A popular choice is the use of a fire retardant. It's simple application and no-maintenance for contractors and home owners. Some brands have additional benefits.

What is a Fire Retardant
People unfamiliar with fire retardants are surprised to hear that wood can qualify as a non-combustible material to a certain degree. Should a fire strike, the chemicals react with combustible gases and tars normally generated by untreated wood. The tars are converted to carbon char which forms on the surface and insulates wood underneath, slowing the rate at which wood is reduced. The combustible gases are rendered nonflammable for the most part due to dilution with harmless carbon dioxide and water vapor released in the reaction. This happens automatically, driven by the heat of the fire, and requires no coating maintenance, batteries, or plumbing; it is true passive protection.

Fire Retardants are not new; they were introduced in the late 1800s when the U.S. Navy used it in ships, and it thrived during World War II when metals were being consumed by the war efforts - fire retardants used in domestic structures such as massive blimp hangars. Today's fire retardants, however, has properties which make it far superior to past types.They are much more effective and non-toxic.

To qualify as "fire retardant," a product must have an accepted rating for flame spread and smoke development when tested in accordance with established industry procedures. Some brands have additional properties, such as low corrosivity and EPA-registered termite resistance, and other features, such as indefinite lasting applications.

Applying Fire Retardants
Sometimes fire retardants are specified for reasons other than code requirements. It is frequently used where fire service is not readily available (e.g. rural homes), where valuable items are kept (art museums, race track stables), where sprinklers cannot be easily installed (theater stages, remodeling projects), where life safety cannot be compromised (school, hospitals) or anywhere people want the peace of mind of an extra measure of safety . In many of these instances, the use of fire retardants reduces insurance premiums. Applying fire retardants to the wood studs of new construction. For pre-existing homes, applying fire retardants to your curtains, furniture, bedding mattress, etc., is very easy and is an added safety precaution for smokers and small children in the home. Remember, smoke alarms and sprinklers cannot prevent the fire, but fire retardants in most cases can effectively prevent and/or slow the spread of fire which can greatly prevent lose of life and property in addition to using smoke alarms or sprinklers. For more information on fire retardants, contact the National Fireproofing Co. at; 1-888-391-3981. Or visit our website at; www.natfire.com