Fire Rated Walls
Fires can cause a lot of damage to property and the people living in it. While a fire can start due to numerous reasons, it will cause more damage only if it will spread throughout the structure, over a large area. Hence it is important to ensure that any unwanted fire is extinguished as soon as it starts or is detected. Using the right material for construction of the building will prevent the fire from spreading to a large extent. All building structures constructed in Australia should conform to fire safety standards specified in the Building Code of Australia (BCA), published by the Building codes board in Australia. The BCA has specified the minimum acceptable rating for the fire rated plasterboard which is used for walls and other areas of the building. This plasterboard is designed to slow down or prevent the spread of the fire depending on the cause of the fire, and other factors, depending on its specifications. If the fire is extinguished quickly the damage caused will be less. Similarly if the material used in the plasterboard is not inflammable, the fire will spread slowly, so it is easier for people to extinguish the fire before it causes much damage and also for people to escape the area which has caught fire.
In addition to the walls, BCA has specified that builders should use fire rated ceiling material, to ensure the safety of the persons living and working in the building. The fire rating of the ceiling or wall material depends to a large extent on type of building structure, since the norms are different for single homes, townhouses, row houses, similar standalone structures, when compared to commercial and residential buildings with multiple offices, shops and apartments. The norms for buildings are usually more stringent, since more people will be affected by the fire.
The plasterboard must protection the building from the spread of fire depending on the relevant building code. The FRL of the plasterboard is usually more than thirty. If the construction conforms to type A or Type B as specified by the BCA, the plasterboard should have a construction which is non combustible. The plasterboard should also provide lateral, vertical support to other elements which have a similar or higher FRL. In addition to resisting the fire, the material should remain stable at higher temperatures. There should be a provision for separation, compartmentalization, and openings should be protected.
Another consideration while choosing the fire rated gyprock material is finding out whether the area where the building is constructed, if it is prone to bushfires. Data indicates that bushfires are more likely in some areas, and usually a bushfire risk assessment is carried out by a qualified and experienced bushfire consultant. The material should conform to the state norms and Australian standards for bushfire safety. The bushfire risk assessment can be classified into six different categories ranging from low risk areas where the bushfire is unlikely to occur, to high risk areas which are also called flame zones.
Gyprock has developed fire resistant plasterboard for a wide range of applications from standalone house, to large commercial, residential buildings. For standalone houses, the boundary wall systems are used to separate houses which are some distance apart. For row houses and other structures which are next to each other, the party walls ensures that fire does not spread from the adjaecent house. Non combustible products have been developed specifically for use in areas where the risk of a bushfire is higher, for greater safety. The right product should be chosen based on the bushfire risk in the area.
To comply to more stringent BCA norms for commercial and residential buildings with a large number of people, Gyprock has developed a range of fire resistant materials like Cinema Wall, Shaft wall, security wall, stratawall. In addition to adjusting the fire resistance level of each material, it is also possible to modify the thermal and acoustic characteristics of the the plasterboard based on the application. The different types of plasterboard available are Frychek, Frychek MR, EC08 Impact, EC08 Complete. These plasterboards are designed for applications like the kitchen and laboratories where the risk of a fire is much higher. Supplementary accessories are also available.