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How to fireproof a bedroom

With the Grenfell Tower disaster still fresh in everyone’s mind, and wildfires raging in California and Australia threatening homes and livelihoods, fire safety should be top of everyone’s list.

So, what can you do about safeguarding your family, home and possessions and minimise the risk? We’ve put together some of the changes you can make to protect your home from a fire.

How to fireproof a bedroom

Use fire retardant materials

Let’s start with building materials; some are more vulnerable to fire than others. Using fire retardant alternatives and fireproofing your interiors are good first lines of defence against a potentially serious tragedy. Make the changes when you are refurbishing or redecorating your home.

When it comes to materials, concrete panels, stucco or brick for exterior walls, steel framing for windows and concrete or metal for roofing are all good choices. Fire retardant paint is also a good idea. For decking, concrete, tiles, stone or brick are better than wood.

Inside your home, choose fire resistant curtains and upholstery fabrics, making sure you understand the various British standards and certifications used for fireproofing fabrics. Additional flameproofing can also be administered to your existing home fabrics and upholstered furniture in situ.

Install smoke alarms

Smoke alarms provide an early warning in case of a fire inside your home. Traditional alarms beep when they detect smoke or fire, while smart detectors also send an alert to your phone. According to UK Fire Service Resources, there should be a smoke detector in every room in your house except bathrooms, for maximum protection. You also need one in the hallway between the living area and bedrooms, and one on each landing.

There are 4 types of smoke alarms suitable for different areas in the house. Smoke alarms should be located away from air vents, and batteries changed every 6 months. Crucially, you are highly advised to test your smoke alarms at least once a year to ensure they still work. You are four times more likely to die in a house fire without a functioning smoke alarm!

Get a fire extinguisher

Having a fire extinguisher handy can make the difference between a small kitchen mishap that was successfully contained, and the house literally burning down. There are different types of fire extinguisher, classified according to the kind of fire they’re designed to tackle. Make sure you are aware of what the differences are and how to use each one in an emergency situation. A typical home extinguisher should have an ABC rating:

Class A – combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, household rubbish, most plastics

Class B – flammable liquids, solvents, oil, petrol, paints and lacquers

Class C – gases including methane, propane, hydrogen, acetylene and natural gas

Class D – combustible metals including magnesium and aluminium swarf

Class E – Electrical fires

Class F – chip pan fires, as an alternative to a fire blanket

Invest in fire doors in key areas

A fire in the home can spread rapidly, engulfing entire rooms in under 10 minutes. But the damage from smoke and fire can be drastically reduced by having fire doors in your home that are closed at night when fires are more common.

A fire door will hold back the smoke, heat and flames – typically for up to 30 or 60 minutes – protecting the escape route and giving you those crucial extra minutes to get out of the building safely.

Non-domestic buildings are subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, of which fire doors are an important element. In fact, business owners found guilty of blocking a fire door, preventing it from closing properly or failing to have one in the first place, can face unlimited fines and 2 years in prison.

Domestic properties, on the other hand, typically only require the installation of fire doors if they have 3+ storeys or an integral garage with a connecting door. Which is not to say that you can’t fit as many as you would like in your home to protect your nearest and dearest.

Fit an anti-arson letterbox

Sad but true – arson now accounts for over 50% of all recorded fires in Britain. There are over 80,000 arson attacks committed every year, with an overall cost of more than £2.5 billion per year, hundreds of people injured and dozens of deaths.

The most vulnerable element of the house is the letterbox – direct, easy and unmonitored access to the interior of your home. Should you ever be a target for attack, for whatever reason and including for no discernible reason whatsoever, this is where you need to protect yourself.

Anti-arson letterboxes such as these ones contain an in-built extinguishing system to deal with any flammable liquids that may be poured through the letterbox. Fitted on the inside of the front door, they are made from fireproof sheet steal with a seal to maintain the fire’s integrity.

Create a fire stopping landscape

A fire originating from outside, such as a wildfire, is best thwarted by preventing it from reaching your house in the first place. You can use landscape gardening design to slow down or stop the spread of fire towards your home, by adhering to these tips:

  • Use hard landscaping such as concrete, stone or gravel around the house
  • Clear any dry vegetation from around the home, particularly in the summer
  • Use fire resistant plants such as lavender and honeysuckle for soft landscaping, and spread them out, to slow down fire and stop it from spreading
  • Keep outdoor plants well watered during the summer months. Lush green planting is less likely to burn.

The Future of Fire Safety: download the eBook

Is the fire protection industry adapting to the post-Grenfell reality fast enough? At FIREX International 2019, Europe’s only dedicated fire safety event, some of the world’s leading fire safety experts covered this theme. This eBook covers the key insights from those discussions on the developments shaping the profession, with topics including:

How to fireproof a bedroom

In terms of how long a home remains standing during a fire, a few minutes can be the difference between life and death. That’s why prolonging a home’s structural integrity is the primary goal of fire-resistant construction. A building’s walls are a key contributor to its structural stability in a fire, and some basic modifications to a wall’s construction can help it to stay upright longer as it’s being threatened by flames.

Fire Resistance

No wall is truly fireproof in the sense that no type of construction is ever entirely impervious to fire damage. However, walls can be fire resistant, meaning that the materials and techniques used in their construction help them stay intact longer than standard walls in the event of a fire. An intact wall helps to contain a fire, and it also helps to maintain the stability of the structure, allowing occupants more time to escape. Because of this, the design of fire-resistant construction materials is focused more on maintaining dimensional stability during a fire than it is on direct resistance to fire damage.

Wallboard Types

Conventional wallboard is made from gypsum sandwiched between layers of thick paper. Fire-resistant wallboard incorporates glass fibers and chemical compounds into the gypsum core that make the board less prone to shrinking as it heats up; the increased stability of the board keeps it in place longer during a fire. When the wallboard stays in place, it slows down the spread of the fire and protects the wood structure of the wall from fire damage. Replacing conventional wallboard with fire-resistant board increases a wall’s fire resistance, as does using thicker wallboard that resists the transmission of heat through the wall.

Exterior Materials

One of the most effective ways to add fire resistance to the exterior surface of a wall is to replace relatively flammable exterior wall treatments, such as vinyl or wood siding, with fire-resistant materials, such as brick, concrete or stucco. When these kinds of materials are not an option, adding a layer of fire-resistant wallboard under the siding will increase the wall’s overall fire-stopping power.

Construction Techniques

During a fire, a wall’s internal structure is likely to move, and that movement can cause the wallboard to pull away from its fasteners. Attaching the wallboard to the wall studs via an intermediate metal channel minimizes the force transferred to the wallboard when the studs move, thereby lessening the chance that the wallboard will pull free from the wall. Placing fasteners at least 1.5 to 2 inches from the edge of the wallboard also helps the board to stay in place, and orienting the wallboard so the joints between panels are vertical and placed over studs eliminates weak spots introduced into the structure when the joints are horizontal and not reinforced.

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Evan Gillespie grew up working in his family's hardware and home-improvement business and is an experienced gardener. He has been writing on home, garden and design topics since 1996. His work has appeared in the South Bend Tribune, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Arts Everywhere magazine and many other publications.

The first “Fortified. for Safer Living” house, completed in Florida in 2005 and built with an insulated concrete form ECO-Block wall system. A program of the Institute for Business and Home Safety, “Fortified. for Safer Living” specifies construction, design and landscaping guidelines to increase a new home’s resistance to natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires.

Insulating Concrete Form Association

As thousands of Southern Californians contemplate how they’ll rebuild their homes charred by the wildfires ripping through the region, they’ll undoubtedly look for materials that won’t burn.

The answer for many of them will be ICFs (insulated concrete forms)—polystyrene blocks that fit together like Legos to form a house’s shell. Filled with concrete—one of the most fire—and heat—resistant of construction materials—ICFs create solid insulated walls that lock out sound and weather. They can reportedly withstand a fire for up to four hours.

While ICFs have been around for decades, their use has mostly been limited to commercial and institutional buildings, such as hotels and schools. But nationwide training camps sponsored by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America now teach carpenters to build houses out of the stuff. Using ICFs costs 1 to 4 percent more than what you would pay for a bare bones wood-frame house with no built—in fire protection, says Vera Novak, Technical Services Manager for the Insulating Concrete Form Association. The material can save money in the long run because it helps prevent heated and cooled air from escaping through the walls; it’s a primary building block in many Energy Star rated homes.

ICFs mean little, however, without flame-resistant roofing and siding. “You can’t just put on a regular wood roof and expect the wildfires to go around you,” Novak says. “You must make sure that your roofing choices are equally fire resistant. That can be done with metal, concrete, and various types of tiles.” Safe bets for siding are stucco, stone, and brick. For the traditional look of wood, choose the fiber cement clapboards or shingles manufactured by CertainTeed Certain Teed and JamesHardie.

For more information on ICFs, check the Insulating Concrete Form Association’s website or call 888-864-4232.

Bedrooms are where fires often start. More than 600 lives were lost due to fire that started in the bedroom. Common causes of these fires are electrical devices that were left unattended, or misuse of electrical equipment such as extension cords. Other fire triggers include children playing with lighters and matches, smoking in bed, and arson. These are some basic reminders to keep you safe and prevent damage of property and loss of life.

How to fireproof a bedroom

  • Children are at a higher risk for deaths caused by bedroom fires. They are prone to playing with matches and lighters. In their bedroom, minimize materials that are easily combustible like paper piles, rags, curtain, etc. Inform your child of the dangers of playing with fire.
  • Do not plug cords near beds, curtains, clothes, and rags. Do not trap cords near the wall or place them under carpets and rags. Also, do not leave laptops on your bed.
  • Never smoke in bed – No matter how conscious you are.
  • Install smoke alarms in all bedrooms for safety, and practice a floor escape plan from the bedroom to the outside.
  • If you are using candles to help you fall asleep, extinguish it before you get sleepy. If you don’t, you might forget it and find yourself trapped in fire inside your room. Furthermore, keep it away from curtains, bed sheets, clothes and rags and other flammable materials like books and papers.
  • Take extra precautions when using space heaters, do not put anything on top of them, and keep flammable materials away from them.
  • Lamp shades, alarm clocks, and other materials that use electricity should be used with extra caution. If possible, use a battery-operated alarm clock. If you have to re-charge your gadgets, do it during the day.

Bedroom fire safety is not difficult. Giving attention to small details can make a big impact, and will give you safety and peace of mind. Emergency preparedness and knowledge of fire safety are a must in every household in order to protect your family and your property.

Give the CSIA certified pros at Ashbusters Chimney Service in Nashville, TN a call today at 615-833-0349 to learn more about the best way to fireproof your bedroom and maintain safety. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or connect further with us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, & Yelp) to have any of your questions answered. Also, please take the time to give us a review online on Google. We appreciate all feedback and use it to better our company and service for you. Thanks.

How to fireproof a bedroom

Kelly Bacon is a licensed general contractor with over 40 years of experience in construction, home building and remodeling, and commercial building. He is a member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board.

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When you are installing drywall, building code often dictates the types of drywall that must be used. One type of drywall that shows up in building codes is Type X or Type C drywall or fire-rated drywall.

While beneficial, fire-rated drywall is often given more attributes than it truly has. This drywall is fire-rated but not fireproof. While it will slow down the passage of fire, it will not stop it. Type X or Type C drywall is only one of many methods homeowners should use to stay safe in the event of a home fire. In fact, fire ratings for Type X or C drywall can be a bit deceptive because they refer to full, complete wall system, not just the drywall.

Fire-Rated Type X or C Drywall

Fire-rated drywall is drywall that is thicker than standard sheets and which sometimes comes with extra additives to the gypsum core such as fiberglass. The purpose of fire-rated drywall is to slow the progress of fire to give inhabitants enough time to escape.

What Is Fire-Rated Type X Drywall?

Fireproof drywall is the common term; its industry name is Type X drywall. The thickness of this drywall is 5/8-inch, including all layers.

Glass fibers are added to the board to help it slow down the fire. Also, because it is denser than normal gypsum and paper drywall, it takes longer for the fire to degrade it.

Most Type X drywall has a one-hour fire rating. The fire rating for the 1/2-inch drywall used throughout the rest of the home is 30 minutes.

As an added benefit, Type X drywall absorbs sound slightly better and is slightly stronger than conventional 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch drywall.

Type X vs. Type C Drywall

Both Type X and Type C drywall are rated as fire-resistant materials. Both have 60-minute wall system ratings.

Type C has more additives to the gypsum core that make it slightly more fire-resistant than Type X drywall.

Why Fireproof Drywall Is Fire-Rated

Type X or C drywall is by no means 100-percent fireproof. Simply it is drywall that will stand up against flame longer than regular drywall.

Also, just because an area is covered in Type X or C drywall does not ensure fire safety for that area, since fire can still find other pathways, such as vents, doors, gaps, cracks, and unblocked stud wall assemblies.

If a conventional 1/2-inch thick sheet of drywall will stand up to 30 minutes of fire, then the added 1/8-inch found in the Type X or C drywall, along with its other properties, will double your margin of safety to 60 minutes. For this reason, fire-rated drywall is sometimes called one-hour fire wallboard.

Fire-Rated Drywall

Termed Type X or Type C

Rated to 60 minutes

Embedded with glass fibers

Required by many building codes

Rating backed on assembly systems, not just the drywall alone

Where to Install Type X or C Drywall

In residences, fire-rated drywall is typically required by building codes to be installed in a few of these places:

  • Near furnace and utility rooms
  • Places where a wood stove is used and especially the garage walls that separate that area from the main house
  • Garage ceilings that have living areas above

Should You Install Type X or C Drywall Everywhere?

No, fire-rated drywall is not intended to be installed in all areas of the home.

Fire-rated drywall tends to run about 20-percent more expensive than conventional drywall panels. While this is not much on the small scale, it can represent a substantial cost difference when multiplied across an entire home's worth of drywall.

More importantly, the fire will find any number of easier passages to travel than through drywall. For example, if a bathroom, nursery, bedroom, or home office were hung with Type X or C drywall, the fire would readily move through oxygen-rich open doors and hollow-core doors long before attempting to burn through the drywall.

If you want fire-rated drywall to be installed throughout your house, you would need to request this with the contractor, as this is not normally done.

Type X or C Drywall Testing Limitations

The ability of Type X or C has less to do with the actual drywall sheet and more to do with the entire wall system as a whole: all items included such as studs and insulation.

USG, the manufacturer of Sheetrock Brand Firecode C Gypsum Panels, makes the point that ASTM (American Society For Testing and Materials) testing of fire-rated drywall requires that entire "assembly/systems" be tested, not just the drywall.

Because these assemblies are composed of many different parts, any of which could affect results, these results may be skewed. USG notes:

Thickness and Composition

Drywall typically comes in 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch thicknesses. Type X or C drywall is 5/8 inches thick.

In addition to the usual gypsum found in regular drywall, fire-rated drywall contains glass fibers to form a super-tough core. The gypsum and fiberglass are packed tighter and denser than with regular drywall.

Cost and Availability

Fire-rated drywall costs more than regular drywall. As a rule of thumb, you can count on it costing about 10-percent to 20-percent more than conventional drywall of the closest possible thickness.

Type X or C fire-rated drywall is not a specialty product. It is available at local home improvement stores or contractors' supply houses.

Unlike wood, concrete does not burn. Unlike steel, it does not soften and bend. Concrete does not break down until it is exposed to thousands of degrees Fahrenheit—far hotter than in the typical house fire. This has been confirmed in “fire-wall” tests.

Secondly, what is the fire rating of concrete? 722.2. 1.1 Cast-In-Place or Precast Walls

CONCRETE TYPE MINIMUM SLAB THICKNESS (inches) FOR FIRE-RESISTANCE RATING OF
1 hour 3 hours
Siliceous 3.5 6.2
Carbonate 3.2 5.7
Sand-lightweight 2.7 4.6

Hereof, can you fireproof a room?

To fireproof this room, you will need to ensure all exits are accessible, install fire detection and maintain electrical wiring. In addition, you will need to practice simple fire safety guidelines and make sure the bedroom is set up with a phone, flashlight and a whistle.

What happens to concrete in fire?

When a fire exposes concrete to high heat, extensive damage can occur because of the temperature shock to the material. Basically, like most any other material, concrete expands as it’s heated. In this case, as the hot concrete cools suddenly, the outer layer may shrink at a different rate and break away.

The 1907 Concrete House From the Ladies' Home Journal

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Pamela V White / Wikimedia Commons / CCA 2.0 Generic license

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    How to fireproof a bedroom

    • Doctor of Arts, University of Albany, SUNY
    • M.S., Literacy Education, University of Albany, SUNY
    • B.A., English, Virginia Commonwealth University

    Perhaps it was the 1906 earthquake and great fire in San Francisco that eventually inspired Frank Lloyd Wright’s April 1907 Ladies’ Home Journal (LHJ) article, “A Fireproof House for $5000.”

    Dutch-born Edward Bok, LHJ editor-in-chief from 1889 to 1919, saw great promise in Wright’s early designs. In 1901 Bok published Wright’s plans for “A Home in a Prairie Town” and “A Small House with Lots of Room in It.” The articles, including the “fireproof house,” included sketches and floor plans designed exclusively for the LHJ. It’s no wonder that the journal was “the first magazine in the world to have one million subscribers.”

    The design for the “fireproof house” is very Wright—simple and modern, somewhere between Prairie style and Usonian. By 1910 Wright was comparing what he called “the concrete house of The Ladies’ Home Journal” with his other flat-roofed, concrete projects, including Unity Temple.

    Characteristics of Wright's 1907 "Fireproof" House

    Simple Design: The floor plan shows a typical American Foursquare, popular at the time. With four sides of equal dimensions, concrete forms could be made once and used four times.

    To give the house visual width or depth, a simple trellis has been added, extending from the entrance. Center stairs near the entrance provide easy access to all parts of the house. This house is designed with no attic, but includes "a dry, well-lighted basement storeroom."

    Concrete Construction: Wright was a great promoter of reinforced concrete construction—especially as it became more affordable for homeowners. "Changing industrial conditions have brought reenforced concrete construction within the reach of the average home-maker," Wright claims in the article.

    The steel and masonry material provides not only fire protection, but also protection from dampness, heat, and cold. "A structure of this type is more enduring than if carved intact from solid stone, for it is not only a masonry monolith but interlaced with steel fibres as well."

    For those unfamiliar with the process of working with this building material, Wright described that you make the forms using "narrow flooring smoothed on the side toward the concrete and oiled." This would make the surface smooth. Wright wrote:

    Flat, Concrete Slab Roof: "The walls, floors and roof of this house," writes Wright, "are monolithic casting, formed in the usual manner by means of wooden, false work, the chimney at the centre carrying, like a huge post, the central load of floor and roof construction." Five-inch thick reinforced gravel concrete creates fireproof floors and a roof slab that overhangs to protect the walls. The roof is treated with tar and gravel and angled to drain not over the cold edges of the house, but into a downspout near the winter-warm center chimney.

    Closable Eaves: Wright explains that "To afford further protection to the second-story rooms from the heat of the sun a false ceiling is provided of plastered metal lath hanging eight inches below the bottom of the roof slab, leaving a circulating air space above, exhausted to the large open space in the centre of the chimney." Controlling the air circulation in this space ("by a simple device reached from the second-story windows") is a familiar system used today in fire-prone areas—left open in summer and closed in winter and for protection from blowing embers.

    Plaster Interior Walls: "All the interior partitions are of metal lath plastered both sides," writes Wright, "or of three-inch tile set upon the floor slabs after the reinforced concrete construction is complete. After coating the inside surfaces of the outside concrete walls with a non-conducting paint, or lining them with a plaster-board, the whole is plastered two coats with a rough sand finish."

    "The interior is trimmed with light wood strips nailed to small, porous terra-cotta blocks, which are set into the forms at the proper points before the forms are filled with the concrete."

    Metal Windows: Wright's design for a fireproof house includes casement windows, "swinging outward. The outer sash might at no very great additional expense be made of metal."

    Minimal Landscaping: Frank Lloyd Wright fully believed that his design could stand on its own. "As an added grace in summer foliage and flowers are arranged for as a decorative feature of the design, the only ornamentation. In winter the building is well proportioned and complete without them."

    Home inspectors check for proper fire protection between garages that abut the living area of the home.

    Unlike separations that exist between dwelling units, the separation between the residence and garage is not a fire resistance-rated assembly.

    Numerous potential hazards exist within garages because occupants of dwelling units tend to store a variety of hazardous materials there. Along with this and the potential for CO buildup within the garage, code requires that the garage be separated from the dwelling unit and attic.

    Home inspectors should be checking for proper fire protection between garages that abut the living area of the home. Home inspectors are not required to cut a hole in the gypsum board to measure the thickness, so it is a visual inspection.

    Randy West, owner of Professional Building Consultants of Prescott, Ariz., said a common problem he sees when inspecting garages relates to the attic access covering. A homeowner will replace a damaged fire-resistant attic cover “with a piece of half-inch drywall or a piece of quarter-inch plywood or something,” he said. “At least once a month I see an attic cover that’s been replaced without a fire-resistant material.”

    How to fireproof a bedroom

    Randy West, owner of Professional Building Consultants of Prescott, Ariz.

    Pull-down ladders also are common trouble spots because many do not provide a fire- or gas-resistant barrier. “The comment I put in my reports is you can buy accesses that are made for this,” West said, “but the more common improvement I see is to pull it out and replace it with five-eighths-inch fire-rated drywall.”

    Another area of concern can be related to the installation of a furnace vent into the garage, which often is done to provide heat near a workbench, but that allows gases to flow directly back into the house.

    West writes about home inspection topics in an informative and entertaining blog on his company website, inspectprescott.com. He wrote about one of the more common problems he sees related to garages in a January 2016 post: “You have fire-resistant walls and a fire-resistant door with self-closers and weather stripping. And then you install a German shepherd-sized pet door through the door or wall directly into the home.”

    What home inspectors should know

    Home inspectors are not doing a code inspection, but a well-educated home inspector will know what the current building practices are and what to look for. The requirements below are from the 2012 International Residential Code.

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