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Prefabricated Fireproof Columns: Safer, Simpler, and Greener

Fireproofing steel columns and beams on a construction site can be harmful to people and the environment. If you work in commercial construction, prefabricated fireproof columns should be considered for a more environmentally friendly solution.

Basics of Steel Fireproofing

Steel is valued for its strength, but it’s not indestructible. It can melt at approximately 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Hydrocarbon and average building fires can burn at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it won’t necessarily melt, steel can become deformed and lose its strength when exposed to extremely high temperatures.

Fireproofing structural steel both maintains a building’s structural stability in the event of a fire and allows people to escape unscathed. Fireproofed steel columns are used in everything from parking garages and shopping centers to hospitals and educational facilities.

Structural steel columns must meet at least X106, or 2-hour, fire resistance rating. The most common fire-resistance ratings are 2-, 3-, and 4-hour ratings as tested and certified by UL®, a third-party agency that helps companies “mitigate risk, demonstrate compliance and deliver confidence in markets worldwide.”

Steel Fireproofing Methods Explained

  1. Intumescent Paint

Fireproof coatings can be difficult to work with. In order to activate the paint, the chemical mixture must be exposed to extreme heat. This releases vapors which then turn into the foam more commonly referred to as fireproof intumescent paint.

Although it’s more visually appealing than a spray-applied application and doesn’t involve using a column cover, the vapors can still be hazardous to the user’s health.

  1. Spray Applied Coatings

Manufacturers of sprayed fire-resistive material (SFRM) include the basic ingredients, like gypsum, carbon black, and cement in their fireproofing sprays. They add harsh chemicals to speed up the hardening process so they can save contractors time.

Harsh chemicals like crystalline silica and Portland cement can be found in these spray coatings. When overexposed, both have contributed to the development of silicosis and lung cancer (crystalline silica) and skin rashes (Portland cement).

It was found that most contractors attributed fireproofing materials to being irritating to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, and they have reported bronchitis, nosebleeds, sinus infections, asthma, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, eye irritation, cough, sneezing, itchy and dry skin and shortness of breath.

Why On-Site Fireproofing Methods Can Be Hazardous

One reason to avoid using on-site fireproofing methods is that they may be hazardous to your team’s health. Fireproofing methods that incorporate fireproof paint or SFRM can be hazardous, to not only the people performing the tasks but to everyone else on your team, as well.

Another reason to avoid using on-site fireproofing methods is that they can be dangerous to your productivity and budget. Fireproofing materials like SFRM and intumescent coatings are supposed to make your job easier, but sometimes they only make completing the project more challenging.

Once the columns are erected, the fireproofing is applied, but if someone on your team isn’t certified to apply an aftermarket fireproofing solution, you will need to bring in an outside contractor – adding more time and labor to completing the project.

Whether you choose to have your team do it themselves or you bring in a fireproofing specialist, your team is forced to maneuver around the person performing the task. You will have to block off the area so no one bumps into wet foam or paint.

In some cases, the site may even need an additional inspection to ensure all fireproofing has been applied correctly on the right materials, which can delay your project.

The health risks and negative environmental impacts of fireproofing sprays and intumescent paint beg for a solution.

An Alternative to On-Site Fireproofing Methods

To eliminate the hazards and possible inconvenience of on-site steel fireproofing, Fire Trol prefabricated fireproof columns provide an environmentally friendly solution.

Our structural steel columns are available in standard and custom shapes and sizes to accommodate whatever specifications your job requires. You can read more about the specs of our fireproof columns here.

Sleek and aesthetically pleasing, Fire Trol’s prefabricated fireproof columns are a propriety engineered system designed to complement the overall structure while also providing durability, structural support, and fire safety.

Fire Trol streamlines the installation time of the columns by fireproofing in-house. Which means no additional trades are needed on-site for the columns once they have been installed. Columns arrive at the construction site fully fireproofed and ready to be erected.

Trust Fire Trol with your next project! Contact us today for a quote.