Fire Resistance in Building Materials for Australian Structures

3 min read
Feb 7, 2024 2:21:00 PM

Are you looking to create a structure such as a cover for your sports, educational, or social space? Fire resistance is a major consideration. You must ensure that the people using the space are protected from the dangers that fire creates.

This is especially important given the ongoing threat of fire in Australia, which is apparent from recent news stories. These stories show that fire safety is as vital as it’s ever been, and fire resistance is an integral part of this. It involves protecting human safety and ensuring the durability of structures, including maintaining load-bearing capacity to prevent the spread of fire.

Various fire safety measures can be employed as part of your fire protection systems. For example, fire extinguishers and hydrants are often necessary for small builds, whilst sprinkler and alarm systems are essential for more complex facilities. When creating a new covered area, it’s also vital to use the most appropriate materials. As experts in the construction of steel cover structures, we know how safe steel is as a material. We’ll show you how safe this metal is and how it compares to fabric as a material to use for your covered area.

Moree Services Club Steel Lawn Bowling Green Rink ShadeCover

Why Steel is a Good Choice of Fire-Resistant Material for Structures

Professionally constructed steel frame structures can retain their structural integrity for extended periods of time if a fire breaks out. This feature of steel protects human safety by making it easier for people to exit the building. It also limits the amount of structural damage, making it easier and less costly to repair damage.

Steel fire resistance is maintained in high temperatures. In fact, steel maintains all its strength in temperatures up to 370ºC (700ºF).

By comparison, all fabrics burn. Some are more flammable than others. For example, natural fibres like cotton, linen, and silk burn more easily than woollen materials. The weight and weave of fabrics also help determine how readily they burn. Lightweight materials that allow plenty of air to circulate are more flammable.

Fabric can be treated to make it less flammable. However, fabrics treated with wax, paint, varnish, plastic coating, or waterproofing solutions do not absorb fire retardant, which can be problematic when constructing structures.

Further Benefits of Choosing Steel Over Fabric for Structures

Given the health benefits of shade, choosing to create a cover for your sports, educational, or social venue is a good decision. After what you have read so far in this article, you can see that steel is beneficial as a fire-retardant material for Australian structures. It also provides other benefits.

These benefits include,

  • Steel is a durable material that maintains its integrity in the face of fire and extreme weather conditions.
  • Investing in steel design and construction is a long-lasting investment.
  • Steel is not prone to splintering or sagging, so maintenance costs are low.

To give you the whole picture, it’s essential to be aware of the potential downsides of steel. These downsides are,

  • Steel construction costs more than the use of materials such as fabric.
  • Damage that does happen can be costly to repair.
  • If the structure blocks sunlight, it can restrict the growth of plants and grass under the cover. 
  • It’s possible for pests to make nests in the structure, so diligence is necessary.

Comparing the benefits of steel covers with fabric structures provides valuable insight. The benefits of using fabric as a material are,

  • Air is able to circulate easily.
  • Light can flow through the structure and allow the flora below to flourish.
  • Design is made easy, with various types and colours of fabric available.

The downsides of fabric structures are,

  • Fabric is not durable, and structures may need to be taken down during extreme weather events.
  • Fabric tends to stretch and tear when it’s been in place for a significant period of time.
  • Mildew affects the fabric and means that structures may need to be replaced.
Steel Sports Court Shade Cover

In Summary

Steel is a fire-resistant material that maintains its structural integrity at high temperatures. This makes it a good choice of construction material if you want to add cover or shade to your premises. Its stability and durability make it easier for people to leave a structure if a fire breaks out, help stop the fire from spreading, and reduce damage.

In contrast, fabric burns more easily, especially if it’s lightweight. It can also be difficult to add fire retardant to fabric if it’s been painted or coated.

Steel is generally superior to fabric in terms of fire safety and durability, making it more resistant to extreme weather conditions. However, its higher cost might not justify its use in temporary structures intended for mobility, that do not pose a serious fire risk.

We’re happy to discuss your cover construction requirements with you and help you decide what construction and materials are best for your circumstances. Simply contact us to discuss your requirements.

OVERVIEW
  •  Steel retains its structural integrity when a fire breaks out.
  •  The strength of steel remains in temperatures up to 370ºC (700ºF).
  •  Untreated fabric structures are less resistant to fire.
  • Steel offers durability and lower maintenance needs