Why Fire Rated?
Rationale for Fire Rated, Coated I-joists
When joists were first introduced to the Housing Industry some 50 years ago, the benefits were quickly appreciated. Physically and dimensionally they were far more consistent than solid sawn 2x10’s and 2x12’s and these superior properties allowed for longer spans. Many of the teleposts in the basements of residential housing were eliminated. It enabled designers to create far more innovative floor plans. In addition, joists were not subject to shrinking because the OSB web contains very little moisture, thereby eliminating the squeaking ,which was so common with solid sawn lumber floors.
However, it did not take long to discover one significant weakness. In the event of a fire, the OSB web would burn through in approximately 5 minutes versus about 15 minutes for a 2x10. When the web burns through, the joist is no longer capable of carrying a load. This meant that the homeowner had less time to evacuate a burning dwelling, and the first responders would not be able to safely enter a burning residence to effect a rescue. Many firefighters and homeowners lost their lives.
For this reason, Firefighters have led the lobby in North America to mandate improvement in the performance of joists in the event of a fire. The U.S. Code was amended in 2012 to provide for the following, if joist are used in residential housing:
- The residence must have a sprinkler system, or
- The basement must be completed dry walled, or
- The joists must be protected.
Although the Code in Canada has not yet adopted this important safety measure, PinkWood opted to build its new facility with the capacity to produce a safer, fire rated joist. A joist protected with intumescent paint is a much less expensive option than the two other alternatives. It also permits the addition of fungicides into the paint to further protect the joist against weathering during the construction process. Our company is now exporting Fire Rated joists into the U.S.
2013 Fire Losses, United States
According to the National Fire Protection Association:
- 369,500 house fires occurred in the U.S. during 2013
- 3,240 civilian fire fatalities
- 15,925 civilian fire injuries
- $11.5 billion in property damage
Source: "Fire Loss in the United States during 2013", National Fire Protection Association.
Note: The photos are from Edmonton Sun, 2007
2007 Fire Losses, Canada
According to the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners:
- 42,753 fires occurred in Canada during 2007
- 224 civilian deaths
- 2 firefighter deaths
- $1.6 billion in direct property damage
Source: "Fire Losses in Canada. Year 2007 and Selected Years", The Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners.