Did you know that most brick houses are pretty resistant to fire? Obviously houses made from wood and some other materials have virtually no fire retardant qualities, but a brick house is surprisingly hard to burn down from the outside.So why then, do we see so many brick houses go up in flames during fire season?The bush fires in Australia have started early this year and already NSW has seen multiple houses gutted, that in some cases could have been saved by the use of simple fire retardant strategies.
The outside of a brick house is seriously not all that flammable. Bricks, concrete, aluminum, all of these materials are designed to be extremely fire resistant. It’s not the outside of the house that’s the problem here, it’s the inside.
The flammable jackpot
Inside a house you have loads of materials that provide fantastic fuel for a fire. In fact, to see a graphic example of how quickly the interior of a house can go up in flames check this out:
You’ll see the fire start innocently enough at the base of the Christmas tree, which in less than 5 seconds becomes engulfed in flame. After 10 seconds the entire ceiling is burning.
Now, turn your attention to the lamp on the right. The flames never touch it, but the heat is so intense that at the 24 second mark the ambient temperature alone causes it to burst into flame.
Finally, after just 46 seconds the entire room has been drowned in flames and smoke.
That video, apart from being downright scary also serves as a graphic example that the interior of the house is far more flammable than the exterior, bringing us back to our original question:
Why do we see so many brick houses go up in flames during the fire season?
And the answer is …Windows!
Windows by themselves are actually phenomenally resistant to heat. Have you ever seen those glass blowers who shape glass into pretty ornaments at markets? Well they’re directing a blow torch flame, which has an average temperature of 1400°C, directly on to the glass for an extended period of time.
The average temperature of a bush fire of around 1 metre in height is around 800°C to 1200°C and those temperatures are never directly reflected onto the glass.
So why do the windows break? In non-techie speak, windows break (or ‘blow out’) during bush fires because super-heated wind heats the exposed glass to extremely high temperatures, but doesn’t heat the framed or hidden portions of the glass to the same degree.
This difference in temperature causes the glass to warp, crack and eventually break, allowing embers and burning debris to enter the interior of the house.
The solution is simple.
You need to protect the exterior of your windows from super heated wind and burning debris during a bush fire. How do you do that?
Get some fire rated aluminum roller shutters for your windows.
They block the wind, allowing the entire window to heat at the same rate, eliminating buckling and preventing a blow out. They also protect against any debris that might be thrown against the window by fire-generated winds.
As a bonus aluminum shutters, fire rated or not, provide protection against severe storms, high winds, hail, and act as an effective deterrent to would-be thieves. And they do all this while still looking pretty damn good.
What more could you ask for?
And we all know what happens 45 seconds later.
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