GREEN Fire Engineering – A New Perspective
The challenge ahead lies in fire engineers understanding and getting to grips with the complexities and paradoxes of green solutions, with sustainability based on the sharing of expert knowledge.
Modern structures and the use of lightweight timber and recycled materials has increased globally. Density, humidity, the use of combustible materials, low-cost insulation and fire retardant chemicals should all be factored into the build of a sustainable environment, and one that includes the management of risk.
Architects and Fire Engineers should work less in isolation. Together with the fire and rescue services, they should initiate a constructive and collaborative dialogue. Design affects every aspect of a building and its fire safety. To achieve green sustainability, fire engineering must be fully integrated into building design.
To a large extent, flame retardants have solved the problems associated with fabrics, lining materials, insulation and combustible panelling. Yet, fire fighters face higher smoke densities in modern buildings from a combination of problems such as panels with thermoplastic cores and unprotected timber constructions. And where there is smoke there is always the potential for the unseen dangers of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.
Flame Retardant Research
Fabric Flare is working on a resolution of the problem by limiting smoke production to the area of ignition. With the restriction of flame spread, toxic gas emissions are also reduced and the interface does not pose the threat of escalation. In addition, the flame retardant alone should not be a contributory factor to the toxic mix.
The next stage of the Fabric Flare flame retardant research programme has already started and will concentrate on the ethical equation of ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ flame retardant systems as an integral part of construction and design. The programme will be conducted in tandem with the company’s accreditation for environmental recognition via ISO 14001.