Interestingly enough, when an establishment invests in fire safety one stocks up enough fire extinguishes & fire blankets then proceeds to install a network of smoke detectors, sprinklers and a good number of fire safety signs to boot. Of course, there are less known methods of fire safety but certainly quite effective in their own right – one such example is the use of intumescent-based fire safety devices such as intumescent strips.
For starters, lets define in lay terms what an intumescent is. Basically, intumescents are substances that expand when temperatures rise – increasing in volume but lowering in density. This is especially useful then, in lining gaps that may conduct fire into other larger spaces. When the fire starts, the intumescent material then expands closing the gaps to prevent further spread of fire and therefore, any further damage from happening. The usage of intumescent material in this way is part of a larger process known as fireproofing.
Intumescent material comes in a variety of chemical compositions depending on its use. While intumescent strips in general, come in a variety of forms – a couple examples are the intumescent pipe wrap and intumescent glazing tape. The pipe wrap as its name gives away – is used to protect pipes like ones found behind walls as part of the network that distributes water to the different outlets. Installed properly, intumescent pipe wraps should, upon exposure to the heat of fire expand and collapse while covering any holes for up to 2 to 4 hours. Intumescent glazing tape on the other hand is used for sealing the gaps on fire resistant glass and fire doors. Intumescent glazing tape effectively seals out gaps like these for about 30 minutes.
While the use of intumescent material certainly helps quite a bit in terms of safety from fire spreading, there are a few things one has to note of. First, that excessive moisture tends to ruin the material – and thus proper installation of the material on an environment that is relatively low in humidity is crucial. Secondly, that the human response to the fire must be immediate enough as the intumescent material does not last very long and only serves as a temporary “shield” from further damage. Indeed, intumescent material works best when applied together with other fire protection methods such as a fire alarm and a network of sprinklers.
Used properly, intumescent material such as the intumescent strips mentioned above give ample time and help for response to the occurring fire. This is especially useful in bigger establishments such as in buildings, schools, offices but has ample use for the home as well. This is because the bigger the area, the longer the response time and preventing further damage to expensive building material is more cost-effective than replacing them with new ones. While not as common as perhaps say, a fire extinguisher or a fire hose reel, the use of intumescent material proves to be a worthy edition to any establishment that wishes to safeguard its assets.