In construction, Pink foam or polyurethane (PU) foam fillers are often called ‘fire foam’. They are a commonly used fillers which many believe is providing fire protection, but that could be costly and potentially a deathly dangerous mistake.
These products are often tinted pink, to distinguish from other non-fire rated foams. It is vital that you understand what it is you’re using and where it’s safe and appropriate, due to the many products with different safety standards.
Most are quick expanding products, which are produced as a liquid from a pressurised canister and rapidly expand to roughly 40 times the original volume, setting into a rigid foam. These products are designed to fill small gaps or service penetrations and, without guidance, should never be used to fill any large gaps or openings. Any fire stopping properties the foam may have – and, again, this differs considerably from product to product – is only effective (and only tested) in small, narrow spaces and gaps.
The best solution from a fire safety perspective is to avoid using these foams altogether, instead using proper fire protection, collars and seals, ensuring that every product fits precisely and exactly, preventing the risks of fire spreading through spaces.
Most PU foams are combustible, which means they offer limited fire-stopping properties for limited spaces between 10 and 33mm (spaces such as bed and side joints to lintels and frames). This filler does not protect larger spaces or timber structures, as it will never achieve satisfactory fire-resistant results. Typically, it is used for materials such as – stone, brick and concrete builds.
There are some which are specifically designed for use in larger gaps – but you must be extremely careful in this situation to ensure that you are using the right products, and adhering to the guidelines.
Any PU foam products which you plan to use and identify as ‘fire protection’ must have any fire safety performance determined by testing, to standards BS 476 Part 20/22 and BS EN 1366-4 for linear gaps and BS EN 1366-3 for service penetration seals. If the foam isn’t tested and accredited to those standards, never fall into the trap of believing that pink foam means fire safe; do your research and be sure you stick to the guidelines, and protect your building work, construction firm and any people who use those buildings from any potential harm.
For more information, or to discuss your passive fire protection requirements, call the expert team at FireFm on 01582 668500.