There are many different ways to ensure more time to escape a burning building and Armando Diana investigates the ways fire retardant coatings can give the necessary time needed to save a life.
As flames engulf a building and panic stricken people are desperate to escape with their lives, minutes and seconds are the difference between life and death. Flame Control Coatings is a manufacturer of specialty flame retardant coatings designed to give people those extra minutes and seconds needed to escape with their lives.
“Our products save lives,” says Bob Zielinski, Marketing Manager for Flame Control Coatings. “Our products are the first line of protection for fire safety and allows for the additional time for people to escape a burning building.”
Zielinski says how much time a person has to escape depends on the heat of the fire and geometry of the building but chances for escape increase when flame retardant coatings are used.
Flame Control Coatings has been in business for 30 years and manufactures a line of fire retardant products that are used by most public buildings including schools, colleges, nursing and old age homes, child care centers, hospitals, penal institutions, apartments, hotels, factories, warehouses, retail stores, restaurants, utilities, railroad and other transportation companies, oil and chemical installations and military installations. The company also manufactures a line of heat resistant coatings.
Although there is little clamor among residential property owners for flame retardant paints to protect their homes, building codes for fire safety in public buildings have become more stringent over the past decade. Whether fire safety products are embodied in sprinkler systems or flame suppressing paints is an individual choice among fire code officials and municipalities.
Zielinski says the fire safety market has grown since Sept. 11, 2001 and more municipalities and fire inspectors are choosing flame retardant paints as the means to not only protect their buildings but, more importantly, create a longer window of opportunity for escape. The privately-held, Niagara Falls, N.Y. company has two major product lines, fire retardant coatings that allow builders and municipalities alike to meet building and fire code requirements and heat resistant coatings, which are used by industry, original equipment manufacturers and individuals to protect surfaces that are exposed to high temperatures.
Fire Retardant Paints
Flame Control’s fire retardant paints have been tested and listed by many recognized testing facilities including Underwriters Laboratories, and Southwest Research to reduce flammability or structural steel fire endurance. Most Flame Control products comply with federal, state and local building and fire code requirements. They retard flame spread and penetration of heat through their intumescent-sublimative-ablative and synergistic flame suppressing action.
On contact with flame or excessive heat, Flame Control intumescent fire retardant coatings decompose and puff up (intumesce) forming a thick, dense, spongy foam layer that checks flame spread and retards heat penetration. Although the mechanism of intumescence is fairly well known, the ability to mix the ingredients
into a paint system to ensure timely and proper intumescence that will maintain integrity during a fire is highly proprietary. Products available include Paints, Varnishes and Specialty Construction Products.
Flame Control offers four general coatings which include paints, varnishes, primer and top coats, and fabric coatings. The paints and varnishes are available in a wide selection of colors. In addition, the paints come in various finishes like Flat, Low, Semi and Hi-Gloss sheens. The coatings can be used on all surfaces where it is either necessary or desirous to reduce the surface burning characteristics of combustible materials and/or to retard the penetration of heat. Primers and sealers tested with these coatings also prevent surfaces from corrosion and weathering. The primers and sealers come in different finishes which penetrates and seals the wood and provides excellent adhesion; some can be used for interior and exterior applications.
The fabric coatings include exterior and interior types of coatings. The exterior coatings are a specially formulated solvent based compound, designed to retard the burning of fabrics that may be exposed to weather. It will not leach out, even when exposed to a continuous hose stream. It is recommended for use on welding curtains, canopies, dividers, awnings, and tents. Meanwhile, the interior coatings are highly effective in reducing the combustibility of cotton, cotton blends, linen, viscose, rayon, paper, and other cellulose products. Its use does not affect the hand (feel) or appearance of most fabrics.
High Performance Industrial Heat Resistant Coatings
Heat resistant coatings resist stress and oxidation at elevated temperatures. Flame Control high performance industrial heat resistant coatings form extremely tough, durable, heat resistant finishes, protecting all types of metal surfaces from corrosion and weathering up to 1500°F. The products are produced in a series of different resin bases with each series having its own unique characteristic including maximum temperature capabilities, type of cure, and minimum curing temperature.
Flame Control High Performance Industrial Heat resistant coatings protect surfaces that will become hot during use, especially metals. The coatings are recommended for refinery equipment, steel mill equipment, furnaces, ovens, stacks, boiler and furnace casings, pipes, pumps, manifolds, exhaust, compressors, turbines, engines, heat exchangers, radiators, insulated and noninsulated storage tanks, insulated steel and stainless steel piping, vessels and tanks.
The heat resistant coatings are broken into different categories stratified by temperature ranges. For example, coatings that are effective up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit form a tough, durable film which is heat, chemical and moisture vapor resistant. The coatings air dry by polymerization and oxidation and do not require any complex heat-curing schedule to obtain their heat resistant properties. In comparison, the company’s high temperature heat resistant products cure by catalyzation, polymerization, and by subsequent fusion and complexing of the ingredients. The products are formulated with special ingredients to minimize contamination from chlorides, other halides, sulfides, nitrates, and metals that are known to induce external stress corrosion cracking.
The Flame Control Difference
All of Flame Control’s coatings are easily applied by brush or spray, and are available in a wide selection of colors and can be used for roof decks, acoustical ceiling tile, cellar ceilings, wooden wainscoting in stairways and hallways, walls, doors, plywood and wall board partitions, structural steel members, cedar shakes and shingles, railway ties and trestles, piers, electrical and communication cables, mass transit people movers, aircraft engine firewalls, ship bulkheads, and other surfaces requiring fire protection.
Since 9/11, 2001 businesses throughout the nation have put a lot more emphasis on fire control and evacuating people from burning buildings in an expeditious manner. According to Zielenski, the industry is flooded with manufacturers of fire control paints. However, he says Flame Control Coatings is the real deal.
“A lot of flame control manufacturers claim to independently test their products but that’s a lot of hocus pocus,” Zielinski says. “A lot of these manufacturers do not do the test work at reputable independent labs.”
But that is not so with Flame Control Coatings, which re-invests a great deal of money into research and development as well as testing. Most Flame Control products are certified through the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). UL is the trusted source across the globe for product compliance. The regulatory authority has benefited a wide range of customers – from manufacturers and retailers to consumers – by testing products for public safety for more than a century.
“One of our selling propositions is that we are highly ethical and do not make claims on anything we haven’t tested,” Zielinski said.
The products are distributed through major paint companies and independent paint stores from coast to coast like Ace Hardware, ICI Dulux, AllPro member hardware stores, Sherwin-Williams and many independent hardware and paint stores. Flame Control also has an international business. Most products are stocked for prompt shipment to customers.
In addition, the company provides technical assistance or information on complying with building and fire codes for specific situations. Moreover, Flame Control has developed a continuing education course for code officials and will be testing it in mid-February 2008 in Ohio.
Zielinski said the company, although small, has recently been adding staff to beef up the development and marketing staff. He said the additional staff is being put in place as the company moves towards a more pro-active marketing and sales approach. The company expanded its plant by 30 percent since 2006 and added a new development laboratory. In addition, the company is making major investments into new products and is introducing a new line up of high temperature products for 2008. In this way, Flame Control Coatings will continue to lead the market through its life-saving and property saving innovations.