Leighs Paints, a UK-based manufacturer of fire-protective coatings, supplied approximately 20,000 liters of FIRETEX intumescent coatings for application to steel trusses of the new retractable roof over Centre Court at the All-England Club at Wimbledon, near London. As part of the Wimbledon improvements initiated by the All-England Lawn Tennis Association, intumescent coatings have also been applied to the new stands at Centre Court, which have been expanded to seat a total of 15,000 spectators.
The All-England Club plays host to the annual The Championships, Wimbledon professional tennis tournament, one of the sport’s four major annual events along with the Australian, French, and U.S. Opens.
The coating product, based on acrylic resins supplied by Eliokem, is formulated to chemically react in the event of a fire to protect the steel and extend the time period before the steel reaches its critical failure temperature. The extended time prior to failure is designed to allow safe evacuation and rescue of spectators.
Eliokem is a specialty chemical company based in Villejust, France, and manufactures a range of acrylic resins used in paint and coatings.
Leighs Paints’ intumescent coatings are used to provide fire protection for steelwork, bulkheads, and decks for up to three hours at low applied-coating film thicknesses, the company says. Leighs, based in Bolton, UK, is a manufacturer of specialty industrial paint and coatings.
Intumescent coatings provide fire protection by means of a foaming (intumescent) effect produced by a chemical reaction of ingredients contained in the dry paint film. The reaction is initiated and continued by the heat of the fire itself. The charred foam that is developed provides insulation to the underlying steel from the heat of the fire, significantly increasing the time before the steel structure reaches a temperature at which it would soften and lose the ability to support its own weight and that of the building.
Intumescent coatings—applied in relatively thin films—facilitate the use of exposed steel structures as visible design features in buildings. This capability distinguishes intumescent coatings from cement-based coatings or fire board, which are used to encase structural building elements as a fire-protective measure.