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Hamilton, ON L8W 0C7

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Hamilton, ON L8W 3R4

Why Fireproofing Standards are Important & How They Can be Applied to Coating Inspections

What’s inside this article: It’s important to note that fireproofing standards in the coating industry are there as a safety precaution. Here’s how you can apply them to coating inspections. 

Structural steel melts at approximately 2,500°F. 

“Consider that the material deforms and loses strength when exposed to high temperatures. Building codes require fireproofing protection for structural steel as a safety precaution.” 

  • New York Engineers 

In the coatings industry, fireproofing standards require the use of fireproofing protection on structural steel, supporting piping and pressure valves as a safety precaution and for the building to be up to code in order to pass an inspection. You’ll often see something called spray-applied fire-resistive material which is applied to provide heat resistance up to a certain temperature. 

Fireproofing Standards:

For buildings to meet code on fire resistance, they must contain reinforced concrete or steel that has been protected and can withstand temperatures of up to 1,000°C. The layer of fireproofing protection reduces the time that it takes for the steel to collapse, which aides in preventing catastrophic damage. This is also added to ensure that in case of a fire, the proofed surfaces allow more time for the fire to be extinguished.  


Structural steel can be protected in several ways: 


1.Faced with Brick or Concrete – however, these materials tend to add a lot of weight to the structure and it must be at least 2.5 inches thick for it to be effective. Most structures that fireproof this way tend to use lightweight materials, such as vermiculite mixed with plaster, concrete, and mineral fiber.

2. Intumescent Coatings – intumescent paint, or intumescent coatings, provide fire resistance to steel and will expand up to 100 times its original thickness, providing a barrier between the steel and the fire. It’s applied like paint and often used in situations where the steel is displayed to the public, as it is a visually appealing solution

3. Flexible Blanket Systems – are practical and provides a reliable barrier to help ensure that the fire doesn’t spread to structural members.

4. Rigid Board Fireproofing – use boards that are moisture-resistant and provide fireproofing, thermal insulation, and acoustic control. They can be applied and installed at the same time as steel decks and beams. 

But there is a common misconception when it comes to fireproofing standards within the coatings industry. We see it all the time, corrosion vs. fireproofing and the assumption that fireproofing IS in fact corrosion protection. 

Fireproofing is designed to protect the steel or substrate in the event of a fire, which is based on a rating of time that is equal to the thickness of the coatingCorrosion protection is an entirely different thing.

For example, 

When we’re building malls, high schools etc., in structural steel we get our fireproofing standards that can range from 20mils (microns) to potentially up to 500 mils. This gives the steel anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours of protection in the case of a fire before the flames are hot enough to damage the steel, causing the building to collapse.  

Fireproofing is based on safety. 

Safety of the structure and safety for the people inside to allow them to get out before the building collapses. So, when we’re thinking of fireproofing, we have to adjust our mindset to change from corrosion protection to human safety.  

This also comes to fireproofing at the construction site vs. fireproofing beforehand.  

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Why it’s Important to Avoid Fireproofing at the Construction Site

Fireproofing at the construction site will not only delay the project but it can be hazardous to employees, especially when dealing with paints and sprayed fire-resistant materials.  

  • These materials contain dangerous chemicals and should only be applied by a professional  
  • You can expect project delays from on-site fireproofing due to blocked areas, navigation of job site and additional supervision 

No, you cannot just get a letter from the manufacturer! 

There can be no deviations when it comes to fireproofing the thickness of the intumescent fire coating. Each job inspection and job are designed to meet the standards set by an engineer or architect, who develop plans based on the UAL and safety codes. These plans map out a specific coating thickness that allows for a certain timeframe before structural collapse. It’s important to work within the job specifications at all time.  

Bottom line is that fireproofing is an important feature of a construction job and is designed for building and human safety. It is something that we always add to our protection plans and work closely with engineers, architects and the safety codes applied to make sure each business we work with is protected for any circumstance that might arise. 

Are you looking for inspection services in the new year? Make sure you reach out today and book in your 2021 consultation! 



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Scott Menzies

Scott menzies

Owner, The Coating Inspector