firefighters give extra time by fire resistant coating

Fire resistant coating UAE –  a safety coat for fire prevention

In the United Arab Emirates real estate owners and the construction industry have to obey strict building regulations and provide safe and effective means of escape. Fire resistant coating systems have proven to be real game changers in this area. Therefore, fire rated coating is mandatory in the latest legal construction regulations for public, commercial and industrial buildings including residential towers and apartment complexes. Fire resistant coatings are not yet compulsory in private villas and dwelling houses, however, owners often choose to apply the coatings to increase the fire resistance of the structure and so increase safety.

In the United Arab Emirates, the Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice was updated in 2017; this was triggered by recent fire incidents such as 15 floors of Sulafa Tower in Dubai Marina being destroyed by fire in July 2016, and the massive blaze that damaged the Tamweel Tower of Jumeirah Lake Towers in 2012.

Fire rated coating in accordance with the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code 2017

The updated UAE Fire Code encourages the use of fire resistant coating by setting minimum fire resistance requirements for different building types. The three factors that define the building and fire rating it requires are:

  • Height – the higher the building the longer it must withstand heat and flames
  • Purpose – residential building, generally, are required higher fire rating than non-residential buildings.
  • Risk factor – when there is higher risk of fire, or fire might destroy valuable information or goods the minimum required fire resistance is 2 hours regardless the height and purpose of the building.

2 types of fire resistant coatings – intumescent paint and fire retardant coatings

Intumescent paint and fire retardant paint are the coating types that comply to the Fire Code 2017, each with a different method of impeding fire. They can be applied either independently or as a fire protective system.

Intumescent fire resistant coating expanding as an effect of fire exposure

Intumescent fire rated coating expands as an effect of fire exposure.

  1. Fire retardant coatings: Used as undercoats for regular paint or topcoats for intumescent coating. These coatings release a flame damping gas when the temperature rises to extremes. This forms a buffer zone, protecting the surface from the flames. This is the most common type of fire rated coating used as an independent coating for wood.
  2. Intumescent paint: Almost predominantly applied as undercoats. Intumescent paint expands when the temperature reaches 200°C forming a solid foam-like char which insulates the substrate. Not only does it protect the substrate from ignition but also from the effects of the heat; steel loses strength and structural integrity starting at 300°C .

When these two coatings are applied as a complete system, the fire retardant topcoat prevents flame spread and prevents the intumescent paint bottom coat from swelling. Once the fire has exhausted the topcoat, the intumescent paint undercoat kicks in. This system provides much needed extra time to get a fire under control.

UAE fire code 2017: the top 5 things to know

In November 2017, the General Headquarters of Civil Defence, Ministry of Interior, released the updated UAE Fire and life safety code of practice which is based on the 2011 Fire Code. The Fire Code 2017 brings along improvements and changes regarding construction of buildings; used materials and structures. The 5 most important thing to know about the Code of Practice are listed below.

  1. The Code now legally binds stakeholders from developers to tenants to guarantee implementation of fire safety in all stages of the construction. If the requirements set in the Code are neglected, a fine of Dh50,000 is applicable.
  2. As the UAE, especially Dubai is concerned with disability-friendliness, also the fire safety supports easy access and disability-friendly fire escape routes.
  3. The Fire Code remains under the jurisdiction of Civil Defence to enable better governance over fire safety implementation.
  4. All buildings will eventually conform to the 2017 Code; 2011 code applies to buildings designed and approved before publishing the update. Once maintenance is needed, the 2017 Code applies. Buildings that have never been approved must been changed to meet the requirements of the code update.
  5. Fire resistant coating and other material standards for testing and requirements apply as defined in the US and European standards.

The standards the fire rated coatings must meet

Globally, there are many standards that test and regulate the endurance of construction materials in case of fire. In the Emirates, the most common standards are the international and US standards. However, you might also need to deal with the British standards and European norms. Therefore, we will briefly explain these.

UL 732 / ASTM E 84: The international and US standards

Class A: Flame spread rating 0- 25, smoke development rate 0- 450. Excellent resistance to fire exposure: fire rating of 2 hours can be achieved.
Class B: Flame spread rating 26- 75, smoke development rate less than 450. Moderate resistance to fire exposure: fire rating of 1.5 hours can be achieved.
Class C: Flame spread rating 76- 200, smoke development rate less than 450. Leight resistance to fire exposure: fire rating of 1 hour can be achieved.

DIN 4102 / EN 13501 – 1: The German Standard, and European Norm

B1 – s1, d0: Low contribution to fire, low smoke development and no forming of burning particles and droplets.
B1 – s2, d0: Low contribution to fire, moderate smoke development and no forming of burning particles and droplets.

BS 476 – part 6 : The British Standard

Class 1: the paint must not allow the spread of flame to be greater than 165mm in 10 minutes. This is a performance standard for fire resistant coating that can be applied to ceilings and walls. Fire rating of 1 hour can be achieved.
Class 0: the requirements include those for class 1, but add an extra requirement known as the ‘Fire Propagation Index’ which measures the paint’s contribution to fire. The coating must have a very low ability to catch fire and burn. Coatings for high risk areas; corridors, escape routes etc. Fire rating up to 2 hours is possible.

Where to buy fire resistant coating for your project & local certified specialists

Although fire rated paint may seem easy to apply, it is definitely a specialist job. Strict building and fire prevention regulations have to be followed and the fire retardancy has to be calculated for each and every material affecting the coating type and thickness. After the fire rated coating is applied you receive a certificate. This guarantees that the specialist has applied the coating or special fireproof paint the right way and tells you how long the construction will withstand fire. You can communicate this with the local fire department in your area if necessary. The certificate, additionally defines the maintenance period, since regular inspection is required by the Fire Code 2017.

Building owners and architects can satisfy building regulations by contracting certified fitters for the job. For fire resistant coating UAE a few of the major companies are:

  • Green Precast Systems & Technologies,
  • National Paints Factory Co Ltd,
  • Ozone Energie Solutions,
  • Technical Metal Industrial Co LLC.

Contact us for further information about fire rated coating technology, products or companies that carry out fire proof painting in Dubai. Our experts are here to help!