You are on page 1of 4

By Arthur J. Parker, P.E., Jesse J. Beitel and Nestor R. Iwankiw, P.E.

, PhD with the ASTM E 119 test standard (or similar fire resistance test methods); • Be a listed product or system; • Be efficient to apply, resulting in a uniform thickness; • Adequately bond to the underlying steel element; • Be resistant to corrosion, weathering, and aging (when required); • Resist abrasion damage resistance (incidental or otherwise) for materials that are applied within the reach or access of the building occupants; and • Ideally, be a non-combustible material. Common fire protection materials used for structural steel include Building Code Requirements sprayed fire-resistive materials (SFRM), thin-film intumescents, epoxyMinimum fire resistance ratings for structural frame members, based intumescents/mastics, board type products (mineral fiber and nonbearing interior and exterior walls and partitions, and floor and gypsum wallboard), and intumescent mat wrap materials. This article roof construction are provided in the building codes. The minimum specifically addresses the application of SFRM and intumescent materials fire resistance rating is determined by the building construction “Type” applied to commercial structural steel and the classification of the structural for AESS applications. Incorporation member as primary or secondary. The of unprotected construction beyond height and area of the building and the the limits of the building code occupancy classification determines requirements may still be feasible, the building Type. Most steel framed, provided an appropriate analysis is multi-story buildings are constructed as conducted (e.g., performance based non-combustible Type I or II buildings design) by a qualified structural fire and are the focus of this article. protection engineering firm. A structural member must be When properly applied to the classified as either part of the primary structural steel at the listed minimum structural frame or as a secondary thickness (and density when using member. Columns and girders, SFRM), fire protection materials will beams, trusses, and spandrels having provide the required fire resistance direct connections to the columns Figure 1: Structure Steel Members Protected with a Thin-Film rating. Each type will have a number and bracing members designed to Intumescent (Photo Courtesy of Isolatek International) of manufacturers, product variations, carry gravity loads are defined by the performance characteristics, and building code as the primary structural frame. Structural members of the requirements, and advantages/disadvantages, all of which can affect floor and roof construction, which have no connection to the columns, project design choices. are considered as secondary members and are not considered part of the Important considerations will include aesthetics, performance (fire structural frame. safety, durability, maintenance, exposures), and cost. Intumescents The minimum hourly fire resistance ratings can then be determined are likely the ideal choice for meeting AESS requirements, with thinfrom the building codes. For example, Table 601 of the International film intumescents being more diverse and cost effective than the epoxyBuilding Code (IBC) provides the requirements for the various building based intumescents. SFRM are less expensive to apply than the thinelements. Similar requirements are provided in NFPA 5000. film intumescents, but may lack the necessary finished appearance. Board and wrap products are applied in such a manner that the Fire Protection Materials contour of building steel are completely hidden, which may make Many products are available to provide fire resistance for protected them undesirable. construction. In general, fire protection materials should: • Provide the required thermal protection when tested in accordance
Current trends in building design include leaving building structural steel elements visually exposed rather than concealed. A number of tested and listed fire protection materials are available to provide required fire resistance ratings. In some cases, building designers may desire to leave the steel members unprotected. In this case, an engineering analysis must show adequate structural fire resistance performance to meet the necessary fire safety objectives given the expected occupancy, fuel contents, structural steel sizes, building configuration, and anticipated fire exposure.

STRUCTURE magazine • February 2005

33

Exposure of SFRM fall into two broad categories: sprayed mineral the epoxy-based intumescents to the high heat flux environments result fiber SFRM (dry-mix) and sprayed cementitious SFRM in the development of a robust char layer. and X design series. prior to the initial application to insure proper adhesion fiberglass. All SFRM are composed of varying mixtures erosive fire exposure environments. and the vide more options in steel sizes. Figure 3 shows a steel column 34 STRUCTURE magazine • February 2005 Thin-Film Intumescents .g. factor. only Adequate ventilation is important during the spraying a clean surface free of oil. binders. Fire resistance UL Fire Resistance Directory. viable option. though than the thin-film intumescent textthe manufacturer’s recommendations for suitable ure. and “D” is the heated perimeter of for exterior applications.of mineral fibers. Thin-film intumescents (Figure 1) are brush or spray-applied directly Application thicknesses range from approximately to the structural steel at relatively thin thicknesses. Epoxy-based intumescents/mastics (Figure 2) are heavy-duty intumescents developed primarily for the offshore and petrochemical Sprayed Fire-Resistive Materials (SFRM) industries. as many thin-film intumescents are solvent or heavy mill scale. capable of withstanding highly (wet-mix). Typical char layers are 30 times thicker than the initial application thickness. dirt. blast damage and/or fire are deemed a design and safety regulations. Adjustments for alternate beam sizes are more members with a high W/D ratio (the problematic.03 0. where severe fire exposures can be encountered..plaster-like texture.and 4-hours are available. cents are provided in the X600 and Current thin-film intumescents most commonly provide 1. (UL) Fire Resistance Directory in the significantly higher than thin-film intumescents. Multiple spray are required for the epoxy-based applications are required for greater thicknesses. Thin-film intumescent AESS applications. A listed finish coat is not required. in pounds per linear Epoxy-based intumescents are extremely durable foot.and 4-hour fire resistance resulting abnormal exposures due to combined imrating thicknesses. The finished based. N. prior to the ensuing fire exposure is maintained. A paint finish coat may be applied over the dried texture of the spray applied epoxythin-film intumescent to provide the desired finished based intumescent is slightly rougher appearance. angles).2-inches to over 1 inch thick.and 2. including protection The finished appearance resembles a rough sprayed of structural steel in commercial buildings. Underwriters Laboratories. and water. increased 3. Listings in the on the order of 50 to 100 times the original thickness. excellent performance qualities do come at a price. Drying intumescents to achieve adequate time must be allowed for multiple coat applications. water-based formulations to better comply with health pact. When exposed to heat. since calculation methods have not yet thermal mass provided by a steel building been developed for epoxy-based intumescents. qualities. approximately 0. A single. and can have an aesthetically pleasing With few exceptions. In the W/D ratio. and pre. Protected with SFRM coatings are arguably the most aesthetically pleasing. adhesion with the steel surface. The next generation of thin-film intumescents are expected to proIf the newer threats of terrorist actions. Inc. are provided for beams and Support for the increased char layer columns with fire resistance ratings ranging from 1 to thickness is provided by incorporating 4 hours. provide excellent adhesion the steel element in inches. These products have been back. “W” is the been developed with SFRM. thin-film in. minimum ratings of 3.40 inches (dry film thickness). D. be encountered. Inc. Testing has been conducted against various tumescents have not been successfully blast loadings to insure that adhesion to the steel tested (and/or listed) to provide fire resist. so Figure 2: Steel Column Protected with Epoxy Based or to the underside of fire rated roof deck epoxy-based intumescents are specified predominantly Intumescent (Photo Courtesy systems. such as Thin-film intumescents can be applied in a single flange tips. These light structural members (e. as have element). Listings for epoxy-based intumesthough they are more expensive than SFRM. Use for exterior applications is in special applications where severe fire exposures could of PPG Industries. they size of the structural member and the fire resistance undergo a chemical change and form an insulating char layer 15 to require-ments (up to 4 hours).construction applications. The design services of a specialty fire protection consulting firm should be engaged for Epoxy-based Intumescents/Mastics advice in such applications. beam size is typically provided in the X600 series though limited to massive structural listings. potentially limiting its usage for Figure 3: Structural Steel Column materials should be followed. No special surface primers spray pass at the lower thickness ranges. fitted to some extent into other use applications.XR600 (hydrocarbon exposure) design series in the hours of fire resistance. areas vulnerable to damage. and greater single-pass application thicknesses. clean rooms. grease. depending on the to 0.appearance. weight of the beam. process. this class of protective coatings may be a more The resulting applications will likely be safer and more cost effective.substrate (either a structural member or bulkhead) ance ratings for open web steel joists. or carbon scrim mesh) in to the structural steel. Portland cement.) also currently not recommended. Approved primers must be applied to the steel internal reinforcement (metal wire.

Calculation methods derived from testing may be utilized. but the material thickness (on the order of 1 inch or more) will commonly result in a bulky appearance and non-uniform look given the inevitable local overspray. AWCI provides inspection criteria for the thickness measurement of applied coatings. where compressed air is typically used to disperse the material into a spray pattern for direct application to the structural steel. within appropriate limits.protected with mineral fiber SFRM with the typical rough texture. Field testing standards are available to verify the SFRM density. S. Adjustments to the SFRM thickness.11 of the IBC provides specific requirements for the inspection of SFRM materials. floor/ceilings. UL Fire Resistance Directory provides minimum thickness and density values for columns. field applied insulation thickness. overpass structures to the low twenties. The dry fibers are conveyed by low pressure air through a hose to a special nozzle attached to the end of the spray head where it is mixed with atomized water prior to application to the structural steel. and a thorough theoretical understanding of the intumescing process is unknown. but these benefits come at a higher price compared to the sprayed-fiber SFRM. Inspection Requirements Specific requirements are included in the building codes to insure that the fire protection materials are applied in accordance with the listing and manufacturer’s requirements. can be applied to minimize the SFRM application. using calculation methods contained in the UL Fire Resistance Directory. and roof deck assemblies in the D. Some SFRM products can be trowel applied or trowel finished to produce a smoother finish. A minimum intumescent insulation thickness can be calculated. and X design series.25 40 to 50 Sprayed-Fiber (Dry-Mix) SFRM Portland cement and mineral fiber factory mix Portland cement and milled mineral fiber factory mix None available Cementitious (Wet-Mix) SFRM Gypsum plaster with vermiculite or shredded polystyrene Portland cement and/or gypsum with vermiculite or shredded polystyrene Portland cement and vermiculite or Mica and other aggregates Common Uses Concealed structural steel Weather-exposed structural steel Loading docks Equipment rooms Weather-exposed structural elements such as parking garages. A number of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries – International (AWCI) standards exist for conducting field testing of SFRM applied to building structural steel. Inspecting field applied intumescent materials used for structural steel protection is not specifically required in the building codes. weather and abrasion resistant cover for longer-term and unusual exposures. Existing fire test data can also be utilized to predict the performance of intumescent materials. Sprayed cementitious SFRM may contain gypsum binders or Portland cement. A comparison of the generic usages of sprayedfiber and cementitious SFRM is provided in Table 1. provided thicknesses for bounding steel members are known. Sprayed mineral fiber SFRM contain a mixture of mineral fibers and Portland cement with a density. and have densities ranging from the mid-teens up to approximately 50 pcf. however the SFRM are mixed with water in the hopper to form a slurry. The appropriate Listing for the SFRM and the steel sizes being protected on the job site will be calculated by the General calculation methods for the intumescent materials do not currently exist. There is limited performance data over a wide range of structural steel sizes available. For example. therefore. Increasing the density of the cementitious SFRM provides a harder. STRUCTURE magazine • February 2005 35 . Section 1704. beams. A qualified structural fire protection engineer can utilize the manufacturer’s test data and product knowledge. more durable. Cementitious SFRM are also shipped dry to the job site. when situations arise which are outside the bounds of the listing. architecturally appealing lines of the steel are consequently obscured and overwhelmed by these SFRM features. Testing and Listings UL offers numerous listings for the materials described above. When set appropriately. a fire test can be conducted for the assembly being designed. and analytical engineering tools to determine an appropriate insulation thickness. Sprayed-fiber SFRM are shipped dry in bags to the job site. Therefore. Alternatively. no verification of the installed density is required. UL provides an equation based on the W/D ratio of the steel member being protected such that the required SFRM thickness is reduced as the W/D ratio increases. pounds per cubic foot (pcf ). The thin. the desired SFRM consistency and density is achieved. The density of the field applied intumescent materials does not vary during installation. and adhesion/cohesion. The minimum thickness of the SFRM depends on the steel size and the hourly fire resistance rating required. N. for aesthetic reasons SFRM would not ordinarily be the protection material of choice for use in prominently displayed AESS areas. Table 1: Usage Comparison of Sprayed-Fiber and Cementitious SFRM Installed Density (pcf ) Mid teens to 20 20 . ranging from the mid-teens building designer and contained in the submittal documents. The requirements provided in the listings and the manufacturer’s written installation instructions must be followed to insure proper application. trusses. P. The wet SFRM are then conveyed through a hose to a spray nozzle. poured into a special hopper where they are “carded” or mixed.

org Bring your next project to some of the most experienced designers in the steel industry.▪ See Page 32 for Author Information For Advertiser Information. Limitations for all insulation materials exist. design. visit www. Point of Rocks MD 21777 Telephone: 301-874-5141 Fax: 301-874-5685 .structuremag. with special engineering analysis to demonstrate compliance with the performance objectives of the code for the encountered project conditions. An appropriate engineering analysis must be conducted by a qualified structural fire protection engineer to justify deviations from the prescriptive building code requirements. Fire protection of AESS within the building code requirements can be provided by use of a number of commercially available. and industry practices provide specific inspection guidelines for insuring that the fire protection materials are properly applied and will provide the level of safety required. A qualified structural fire protection engineering firm is best suited to advise the project team on the selection. Building codes. tested. HEADQUARTERS OFFICE 4010 Clay St. and maintenance of the potential fire protection products for protected construction. Fire protection materials are applied directly to the steel surface at a listed minimum insulation thickness to provide the required fire resistance rating. inspection. and must be followed to prevent misapplication of the product and to ensure proper fire performance.Conclusions In many applications it is possible to incorporate unprotected AESS. and listed fire protection materials. application.S. test standards. Let us help you with your next longspan challenge… 36 STRUCTURE magazine • February 2005 U.