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Structural Steel Fireproofing Procedures

As a safety precaution, many building codes need fireproofing protection for structural steel. Spray-applied fire-resistive materials (SFRM) are the most popular way to provide this protection. Spraying the product on steel can provide heat resistance. The required coat thickness is determined by building codes. The materials can be divided into wet or dry spray materials. This describes how the material is mixed, applied, and maintained.

Depending on the circumstances, there are other options that can be used to provide protection.

Concrete aerated by autoclave

Aerated concrete can be used to enhance fire resistance, particularly around steel columns. When installed between the flanges, and connected to the web of the rolled sections, this concrete can provide fireproofing properties.

Concrete can be poured between the steel components’ flanges using shear connections to the steel web. This is useful for those who have higher fire resistance requirements. The concrete being placed must be kept at the bottom area of the connection.


Although this option is less popular than it was in the past, it can still be useful for certain projects. This requires more space due to the amount of concrete required and is less visually appealing than other options. Large parking garages, for example, are not as concerned about these issues and may still use this method.

You can add additional fire protection to concrete-supported flanges by adding reinforcements such as rebar.   

Coatings with Intumescent Features

This method, also known as intumescent painting, provides fire resistance for structural steel members. Intumescent coatings can expand up to 100 times their original thickness, which provides superior fire resistance. This buffer is created between the fire and the members. When exposed to extreme temperatures, the coating will undergo a chemical reaction.

Intumescent coatings can be a great option when aesthetics are important with steel that is exposed to the public. It is applied in the same way as paint. Each layer adds to the overall thickness. 

International Building Code

The International Building Code (IBC), is used by most U.S. municipalities and other jurisdictions as the basis for their standards. The IBC is updated three times a year and was most recently updated in 2018.

Based on the results of tests, building materials and fireproofing methods are typically rated in hours… If a fireproofing method has a rating of 1 hour, it means that it must maintain structural integrity for at most one hour. The higher the rating, the longer it takes to evacuate and extinguish the fire, while also limiting the damage.

Actual building requirements will vary depending on the intended use of the building, its location, and other factors.

Flexible Blanket Systems

Flexible blankets that have been specifically designed can be used to fireproof. They are easy to install and maintain. While this is a practical and efficient method, only a few manufacturers make it. This application is able to meet nearly all safety codes and standards. It provides a cost-effective, reliable way to stop a fire from spreading to structural members. When dealing with complicated shapes, blanket systems may be an option.

Fireproofing with rigid boards

It is quick and easy to install rigid board fireproofing. It can be used in conjunction with the installation of steel beams and decks. Rigid board fireproofing is able to meet all your fireproofing needs. It also provides thermal and acoustic protection. This type of fireproofing is mechanically fastened and can protect against pests and termites. You can also get it in different thicknesses to satisfy UL requirements. It can withstand humidity and moisture without losing its fire-stopping properties. You can design boards to exact dimensions and include decorative finishes.

To learn more about structural steel fireproofing procedures, please visit Kenneth Watterworth’s official website.

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