Safe living with fire retardant coatings

The objective of a flame retardant is to increase the resistance of a product to ignition and to reduce flame spread.

Nowadays people plan in detail for their life, health and medical insurances and spend huge amounts on the same, the reason being fear of uncertainty. People also buy fire insurance for their properties for the same reason. But very few bother to implement preventive measures to minimise the risk of a small fire turning into a catastrophe. There are products and technologies available at a very minimal cost considering the asset values, fire retardant coatings being one of them.

What is fire? A rapid, persistent chemical reaction that releases heat and light. It is the exothermic combustion of a combustible substance with Oxygen.

While worldwide statistics on fire loss are not available, it has been reported that fire losses occur in just about every country on the planet and it is increasing with each year.

In India as per the recent National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, fire accounted for 24,414 deaths and 60 per cent loss of property. In the 2012 report of FICCI, the risk of fire has been rated among the top six risks by all the regions across India

Fire is a unique destructive force of nature; what it touches cannot easily be repaired, rebuilt, or restored to its original form.

Fire is fatal to almost all life on the planet and is something that all of us want to avoid since we know it will burn and maim us, and if we cannot escape, it will kill us.

The areas which are usually prone for fire accidents include airplanes, railways, buses, kitchens, hotels, homes, cinema halls, multiplexes, shopping malls, high rise buildings, heritage structures, electric cables etc.

Function of a fire retardant
Because almost anything will burn, the objective of a flame retardant is to increase the resistance of a product to ignition and to reduce flame spread. Thus, the use of a flame retardant is intended to increase the resistance of a product to the ignition point and to prevent a small fire from becoming a major catastrophe.

Flamebloc technology
Flamebloc technologies, offered by Anantco is from Buckman Laboratories Inc, USA, are environment friendly. Flamebloc products are water based, non-toxic, non-allergic, non-hazardous, non-halogen based clear liquids and free of PBDE’s (Polybrominated Diphenyl Esters) or any other restricted chemicals.

It is generally observed that the causalities/ injuries during any fire accident are due to inhalation of toxic gases/ fumes, suffocation, panic and stampede. Therefore selection of eco-friendly fire retardant coatings becomes more relevant.

Recently Maharashtra government’s Public Works Department has used Flamebloc coatings as a preventive measure on wooden substrates in various new offices being created at Mantralaya buildings which include new Cabinet Meeting hall on the first floor, Chief Secretary’s office block and all corridor doors of round building at Vidhan Bhavan complex.

Functional properties of Flamebloc technology
During the first moments of fire exposure, water vapour and Carbon Dioxide are released to displace oxygen from the surface so flaming cannot occur, providing time for adequate char to form and take over after the ‘off-gassing’ phase.

Temperature control
For a period of time (depending on the amount of chemical used), the protected material is maintained at a temperature of 104 C or less, due to water within the coating converting to vapour. This chemical action (just like when water boils) means the material cannot rise above that temperature until all the water is gone. Since ignition temperatures for cellulose is typically over 212 C, this provides a powerful resistance to ignition, and flame spread.

Carbon char is formed as a barrier between the fire and the protected material, converting the outer surface of the material to non-flammable char, and/or building up layers of carbon char foam, as an insulation that continues to separate the fire from the protected material for an extended period of time
(depending upon the chemical used, and the amount applied).

The layer of carbon char continues to form and expands up to 100 times the original film thickness. This provides an insulation and Thermal barrier and the substrate is protected from the effects of the fire.

Flamebloc GS coatings can be applied to various substrates such as paper, fabrics, all types of wood, plastics, metals etc.

Although Smoke detectors, sprinklers, fire extinguishers are widely used as curative measures during fire accident, where as Flamebloc fire retardant coatings can be used as a Preventive measure, to nip it in the bud.

Authored by__

Anant Thakore,
Managing Director, Anantco

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