Diagnosing Failure in Fireproofing

From D+D Online, October 2015

By Jayson L. Helsel, P.E., KTA Tator Inc.

The project specification for a recent building addition at a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility required that much of the structural steel be fireproofed....

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Tagged categories: Coating failure; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Cracking; Disbondment; Failure analysis; Fireproofing; Fire-resistive coatings; Good Technical Practice; Intumescent; Jayson L. Helsel; KTA-Tator; Passive Fire Protection

Comment from Stephen Dobrosielski, (11/30/2015, 7:49 AM)

I once heard of a paint contractor making the statement "it's just paint!" when discussing an intumescent fireproofing application project. As detailed in this article, it's not just paint. My experience with thin film intumescents says that the coatings contractor and the construction manager need to have a very clear understanding that it isn't just paint, that ambient conditions are critical for both application and cure, that accessibility to surfaces for spray application is critical to create the architecturally desired finished product, that "lighter" steel members require many multiple coats that each require adequate cure time.

Comment from Joe Miller, (12/3/2015, 9:25 AM)

Jayson, Sadly there is a disconnect between products or systems specified for ideal conditions and timelines----and real world requirements. This seems to happen with many different types of coatings from intumescent fireproofing to floor coatings to almost all other site-applied coating products/systems---based on my observations of over 36 years in the business. It seems like the specification writers are caught in the middle on this. They have almost no idea when they develop and write the coating specifications what the actual field conditions will be when the applications are actually made. It seems like that puts the onus on manufacturers to have formulations for almost every real world condition. Cold, wet rainy, frost, freezing, blistering hot, etc. And the General Contractors forced to meet strict building schedules that require the jobs to be done "on Wednesday" rain or shine. GC's know they must get the jobs done regardless of the weather conditions or the status of the building enclosure process. So it seems to me that we need to be able to accomodate both schedules and actual site conditions. I'm not sure how we can get this done---but rigid spec enforcement policies seem like they conflict with real world realities. I'm sure that a great many of our manufacturers can formulate to meet almost all real world weather conditions. But how to get the right products/systems to the project at the right time? Just my thoughts. Thanks.

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