The Costs Of Passive Fire Protection

It seems like anything in life, we all want to pay less and get more. But as with most things, that’s rarely the case. Fireproofing falls into that category as well. We were recently asked to inspect a structural steel fireproofing project in Malaysia where not only was the fireproofing falling off, but the lack of skill and care in the workmanship was horrific, not to mention the incorrect thicknesses.

Fire Rating Failure

First and foremost, the incorrect thicknesses of the steel coating meant that the fireproofing could not achieve the designated 2-hour fire rating, and was an immediate failure. This was a major red flag and was brought up to the engineering and asset owners.

Not Just About the Product

Although we are not cementitious manufacturers, but intumescent thin film coating manufacturers, we didn’t have to be specialists in this case to see failure and poor choice of installation. You can’t fault a supplier for the application of their product (unless completed by the manufacturer). As you can see in the photos, the fireproofing is falling off, leaving exposed flanges and no reinforcement or mesh, which is typical of a cementitious product. Most importantly, the system was never sealed.

The High Cost of “Cheap” Fireproofing

Needless to say, we have been asked to replace the existing fireproofing with CharCoat SC120, which is no easy task given the removal of existing failed fireproofing, preparation, and installation.

The funny thing is, we quoted this project originally and the asset owner went for the “cheapest” installed quotation. As you can see, cheap wasn’t a good choice, as it will now cost four times the contract cost to repair and replace.

Thinking you’re saving money by choosing the most inexpensive fireproofing solution can sometimes be a very expensive exercise. Cost-effective fire protection requires a focus on quality materials, correct approavls and proper installation to ensure your project achieves the required fire rating and fire safety.

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