Thermguard roof insulation makes homes safer by acting as a fire retardant that can drastically reduce the spread of an accidental fire. Such accidental fires could be the result of a faulty light, faulty electrical connection, kitchen fire or even a lightning strike. There will always be conflict within the industry between the various manufacturers. However, cellulose is the only bulk roof insulation material on the market proven to slow or extinguish the spread of a fire.
Tested by the SABS and approved for use in buildings as an insulation material, Thermguard roof insulation is fire treated under SANS 428 and classified B/B2/2. SANS 10177 –
“Does not have a propensity to support flame spread. No ignition of the cellulose insulation material and any resultant propagation was observed at any time during the test period”
Thermguard roof insulation has two properties which assist in its fire-retardant abilities. Firstly, the dense structure of cellulose stalls the spread of flames and noxious gases by restricting the availability of oxygen in insulated ceilings. Secondly, Thermguard is treated with borate, a harmless salt which is both environmentally friendly and naturally occurring. Borate is said to be six times less toxic to humans than common table salt. In the case of a fire, the borate within the fibres creates a surface crust which prevents further smoldering and therefore stops the fires spread. Cellulose ceiling insulation is likely to be the only wood based building material treated with a fire retardant in your home. The fire-retardant characteristics of Thermguard will last the life span of a building.
There have been many fire tests conducted within the USA and Canada where cellulose insulation materials share a very large part of their market. Canada’s NRCC (National Research Council Canada) found the following; “the fire resistance performance of an assembly with glass fibre insulation in the wall cavity was slightly lower than that of a non-insulated assembly. The installation of cellulose fibre in the wall cavity provided an increase in the fire resistance performance of 22-55% compared to a non-insulated assembly.” This was found to be partly due to cellulose fibres ability to reduce drafts and air movement which prevents the amount of oxygen available to support the spread of fire.
However, perhaps the most popular fire resistance insulation test is known as the “Big Burn”. It is a demonstration showing the difference between the fire resistance of an uninsulated structure, one insulated with glass fibre and one insulated with cellulose insulation material.
The home fire demonstration was conducted in 1998 at the Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute under supervision of the Code Consortium, Inc. and Steven winter associates. Three structures were erected using normal residential construction practices. Common door sizes and window openings were provided and wood cribbing was used as an igniter on the first floors. The elapsed time and temperatures of each structure was measured throughout the demonstration and the results noted.
The big burn demonstration showed that the structure insulated with cellulose remained standing 57% longer than the glass fibre insulated structure. These results correspond with the NRCC’s laboratory test of 55%. This obviously affords victims of a home fire more time to escape the blaze safely and provides more time for the structure to be saved by fire fighters. Glass fibre insulation material, although it has a relatively high melting point has been found to have little resistive fire value and will melt away to nothing.
The Big Burn Link
Demonstration of the Borate Crust