What is Fire Resistance?

Fire resistance is the property of a material or assembly to withstand fire and continue to perform its given function and/or provide containment of a fire for a specified period of time. Thus, when this concept is applied to elements such as walls and floors etc., these building elements must resist the fire itself and keep the fire from spreading.

Each element has its own fire resistance properties, regardless of the reaction to fire classification.

Once a contained building fire has reached the point of flashover you need to rely on building elements with high fire resistance properties to protect the rest of the building from fire spread. Therefore, with regards to fire safety, the building elements must maintain their integrity and act as a partition to contain flames, smoke and heat to the original compartment.

Learn more about Fire Resistance

Once a fire has reached flashover and transitioned to a fully developed blaze it's important that building elements are able to resist and contain fire spread. Watch this short video to learn more about fire resistance, how it is classified and why it is important in the context of how a fire typically develops.
 

How is Fire Resistance Classified?

Fire resistance is classified through AS/NZS 1530.4 or NZS/BS476:20 (along with reference to the European Standard EN 13501-2).  

The fire resistance of a building element is fully described by the use of three numbers. Together, they give the fire resistance rating (FRR) expressed in the form structural adequacy/ integrity/ insulation. The numbers refer to the time in minutes for which each of the criteria are satisfied when the element is exposed to the temperature, pressure and applied load specified in the test procedure.

  • Structural adequacy is the ability to support a vertical axial load and only applies to loadbearing elements of structure. A column or beam may have an FRR of 120/-/-, or a loadbearing wall may have an FRR of 60/60/60.
  • Integrity is the ability to withstand fire exposure on one side whilst stopping the passage of flames and hot gases through to the non-fire (unexposed) side for a period of time.
  • Insulation is the ability to limit the temperature rise on the non-fire (unexposed) face. These terms are defined in the test standard AS 1530.4-2005. The unexposed face is sometimes referred to as the 'cold face'.

Both built-up systems containing insulation board and insulated panel systems with high-fire resistance properties can help to contain the fire through both integrity and insulation, the structural element is provided by engineer designer elements.

Different factors, such as jurisdiction and application, determine the level of fire resistance required by different building regulations.

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