Structural Fire Protection for Steel Buildings

Despite being one of the most widely used construction materials for structural framing, steel remains vulnerable to fire. At temperatures around 600 degrees Celsius, it begins to rapidly lose its strength, compromising structural integrity. 

This susceptibility highlights the critical importance of accurate structural steel fire protection coating systems. These specialised coatings expand and form an insulating barrier around steel, significantly slowing heat transfer in the event of a fire.  

Implementing robust fire protection strategies from the project's outset safeguards human life, protects major investments, enhances fire safety compliance, and can unlock cost-saving optimisations. 


What is Structural Fire Protection?

Structural fire protection involves forming an insulation layer around the steel structure to prevent heat transfer during a fire, thereby reducing heat stress and avoiding structural collapse. 

When fire protection is applied to steel structures, a specialised intumescent coating is used that expands under high temperatures. This coating forms an insulation layer around the steel members, significantly slowing down heat transfer for up to 120 minutes. 


The Importance of Early Integration

Ideally, the coating solution should be considered and integrated during the design phase. However, it is often treated as an afterthought rather than a pre-emptive measure.  

This can then unfortunately result in higher costs, project delays, and non-compliance. 

By proactively incorporating intumescent coating into the design specifications and integrating fire engineering knowledge, a range of optimisations become possible. This way, projects can reduce the overall expenses associated with adequately fire rating the steel structure while still meeting requirements and regulations. 


Corrosion and Durability Protection

In addition to providing critical fire resistance, structural fire protection systems can contribute to long-lasting corrosion protection for steel members. The effectiveness of these coatings is measured by their time to first maintenance (TTFM), as defined in AS 2312. This metric represents the number of years the steel can remain effectively protected without requiring maintenance or re-coating. According to the standard, intumescent coatings must comply with B2 durability classification, which mandates a TTFM of 50 years. 

TTFM is dictated by the corrosion zone, classified from C1 (the mildest) to C5 (the most corrosive). A C1 environment refers to an interior, air-conditioned office space that is shielded from moisture, temperature extremes, and other deteriorating factors. On the other end of the scale, a C5 environment subjects the steel to constant exposure to highly corrosive conditions. 

By specifying the appropriate fire protection system based on the projected corrosive environment, building owners can ensure their steel structures remain protected for decades with minimal maintenance requirements. This long-term durability is a critical consideration, especially for projects with strict sustainability and environmental impact goals. 


Choose Fireshield

Protecting steel structures from fire risks requires specialised knowledge and an ability to optimise fire rating systems.  

At Fireshield, we have leading fire engineers and architectural designers in-house who can provide advice and documentation for all projects. Our team’s individual expertise and previous design backgrounds enable us to foresee the possible problems on-site, and engineer solutions early on.  

As specialists in intumescent coating specification, we develop, test, and manufacture our own products, as well as supply products from other leading manufacturers around the globe. 

Get in touch with us to discuss how we can work together on your next project.