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What aspects do I have to consider for the fire-protection of brickwork structures?

The brickwork structure may be load-bearing, compartmentalising or perform both functions. In all situations each brickwork element has its own intrinsic resistance and/or insulating properties, but the use of intumescent paints and fire-proofing plaster can increase their duration.

What are load-bearing brickwork elements?

A wall is normally a vertical structure made of a range of different materials and a binding agent that renders the structure monolithic. A load-bearing element must guarantee the following properties.
  • Load-bearing function
  • Heat insulation
  • Sound insulation
  • Fire safety 
  • Safety in the event of an earthquake 
  • Protection against atmospheric agents 
A load-bearing wall therefore is an element that marks a boundary or a partition that, in addition to delineating space, must ensure the stability of the building and be capable of bearing vertical loads and horizontal thrust. With regard to fire-safety, a load-bearing wall must satisfy R (resistance/load-bearing capacity) requirements. For brickwork that in addition to its load-bearing function also separates two spaces, as well as meeting the R requirements, it must also guarantee to meet those of E = integrity in terms of smoke and fumes, and I = thermal insulation.

What are separating, non-load-bearing brickwork elements?

What are separating, non-load-bearing brickwork elements? Separating, non-load-bearing elements are defined by their compartmentalising role, in practice belonging to one of two categories. 

Dividing walls separate one environment from another. They are vertical and have no structural function. 
Infill walls close the spaces between structural beams/columns.

For both dividing and infill walls the essential requirements are that they prevent the side opposite the one exposed to the action of fire from reaching a temperature of over 140°C and that they do not allow the entry of smoke, fumes and hot gasses for a stated period of time. The fire-protection requirements are therefore E = integrity and I = insulation. 

How to protect brickwork?

When a building is being fire-proofed, higher performance is often required of brickwork than in its existing state. This therefore makes it essential to improve its behaviour in fire.
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What is the regulatory framework?

The contribution made by a coating designed to protect a structural element from fire can be determined by analytical calculation, comparing tables and/or by experimental testing.
Amotherm brand reactive paints and varnishes undergo the rigorous testing prescribed by EU regulations to provide an unequivocal classification of their performance and effectiveness.
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How is a reactive protective system for brickwork made?

Indoor brickwork is not normally subject to harsh climatic or mechanical agents. When making a protective coating therefore, the main factors to be taken into account are aesthetic effect and adhesion, plus ease of production and integration with technology and equipment are also essential considerations.
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What are compliance checks for?

To guarantee an intumescent coating’s fire-protection performance the application instructions must be scrupulously followed. In particular, it is necessary to refer to the product’s conditions of use and the instructions for applying it, carrying out the compliance checks before, during and after the intumescent system is applied. These checks are as follows.
  • Check the product 
  • Check the surface
  • Check the application conditions and methods
  • Check the properties of the intumescent system used
The thickness of the coat of intumescent paint applied is an essential factor in ensuring the correct fire-protection performance of the construction element treated and therefore an adequate criterion must be used to check this system property.

What is meant by duration and durability and what is maintenance for?

The durability of a passive fire-protection system is defined as “The expected life of a protective paint system to the first major maintenance painting”.
Because the duration in service, or durability, of a protected surface is generally longer than the durability of the protective system used, a maintenance schedule must be prepared, in compliance with current technical standards, that makes it possible to use the structure for its nominal lifetime. The schedule must provide for routine maintenance, to be done at regular intervals, as well as special maintenance to be carried out whenever conditions lead to damage or degradation requiring partial or total replacement of the reactive paint. With proper maintenance, the durability of the protective treatment will definitely be prolonged for the entire nominal lifetime of the protected structure. For information about proper maintenance, see the manufacturer’s manual.