THERMOMASS Helping Create Fire Resistant Developments

If the heat waves and fires of the recent holiday period have taught us anything, it’s that prudent insulating and smart building practices are paramount to our comfort and safety during periods of environmental extremes.

In extreme fire conditions like we’ve experienced this summer, the THERMOMASS insulation system offers something far more important than comfort – the protection of livelihoods and properties in the event of fire. Utilizing the non-combustible nature of concrete, the THERMOMASS concrete sandwich panel system displays extraordinary fire resistant properties as outlined in the following case studies.

In 1998, a large fire broke out at a tilt-up facility in Wisconsin, USA. The facility was comprised of the original wooden framed warehouse, which had been later extended using the THERMOMASS precast panel system. In the aftermath of the fire, inspectors noted that while the wooden building had been ‘completely destroyed’, the tilt-up portion of the facilities ‘maintained structural and insulative integrity’.  Spalling occurred only where the wooden beams directly adjoined the precast panels, and while swelling slightly, the THERMOMASS insulation remained intact and displayed no decrease in R-value performance. Furthermore, apart from aesthetic smoke damage to the panel surface, the only other damage to note was where caulk joints were directly exposed to fire – a quick and inexpensive repair. While the case study cannot be disclosed for proprietary reasons, the following pictures highlight the contrasting damage to both the wooden and tilt-up portions of the facility.

Aftermath of fire at the tilt-up facility showing damage to wooden vs. tilt-up buildings.

Aftermath of fire at tilt-up facility showing damage to wooden vs. tilt-up buildings.

Result of direct exposure of caulk joint to fire. Relatively inexpensive repair.

Result of direct exposure of caulk joint to fire. Relatively inexpensive repair.

As further evidence of the THERMOMASS system’s fire resistance, the following pictures show the action and aftermath of a fire at a large cold-store facility in the US. As is evident from the photos, the lightweight portion of the facility was completely destroyed, while the THERMOMASS panels have been left relatively unscathed and completely functional.

Fire in progress at cold storage facility.

Fire in progress at cold storage facility shows the severity of the blaze.

Aftermath of fire shows Thermomass precast structures still standing amidst the debris.

Aftermath of fire shows Thermomass precast structures still standing amidst the debris.

Perhaps more relevant to recent events, the following image shows the aftermath of a Californian bush fire in early 2000 – the only remaining house happened to be a THERMOHouse.

Aftermath of a bushfire in the Californian hills. A solitary THERMOHouse remains undamaged.

If your next project is situated in a fire prone area, or you’re simply looking to provide the most comfortable living experience for the building’s future occupant, contact our Technical Director Mikael on  (03) 98248211 to find out more.