DEMAND for fire-protective intumescent coatings in the Middle East region is expected to continue to rise at an annual rate of at least 10 per cent, according to an official from Leighs Paints, UK’s leading independent manufacturer of high-performance coatings.
“The outbreak of fires has shown the need for improved levels of fire protection more than ever before,” says Andy Holt, fire protection manager for Leighs Paints. “Whether under construction or fully occupied, the buildings remain vulnerable to fires, resulting in financial and human loss.”
“Recent fires have focused attention on the dangers faced during the construction phase of a building. Due to the fast speed of construction, it is common to find multiple trades working simultaneously in close proximity to each other often resulting in accidents,” he adds.
The use of fire protection coatings in the Middle East is growing rapidly, according to him. “Leigh Paints, in collaboration with Al Gurg Leigh’s Paints have executed a number of projects in the region, especially in Dubai. These include the Dubai Mall, Dubai Festival City, Emirates Crew Training Centre, and the hangars at Dubai Airport,” he points out.
Leighs Paints’ Firetex range of coatings, according to Holt, is a revolutionary solution, which helps protect buildings in the event of fire, and can help saves lives in the event of a blaze breaking out. “As structures across the Middle East get bigger, it can take longer to evacuate buildings in an emergency, and the Firetex intumescent coating from Leighs can protect both internally and externally exposed structural steelwork for up to two hours,” he says.
Structural steel loses its load-bearing capacity at temperatures above 400 deg C, which could result in collapse or instability of the structure. Firetex intumescent coatings, according to him, can protect steel from reaching this critical temperature for up to two hours. The coating is formulated to expand and release foam to the inner lining when it reaches a set temperature which insulates the steel, keeping it protected.
Adds Sunil Gudur, chief manager of Al Gurg Leigh’s Paints: “Intumescent coating is often carried out at the initial build stage of projects, as early passive fire protection of a structure satisfies insurance companies. It also ensures that a wet trade is completed with minimum disruption to other trades.
“The extra time that the coating provides during an emergency can be the difference between life and death. Many of the largest structures in the world are here in the Middle East, and Leighs Firetex coating should be part of a number of measures to ensure the safety of its residents and visitors.”
Al Gurg Leigh’s Paints in collaboration with Leighs Paints were pioneers in bringing intumescent technology to this region 15 years ago. City Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road became one of the first buildings to use intumescent coatings on its glass-enclosed fire escape staircase, points out Gudur. Firetex has approvals from Warrington Fire and UAE Civil Defence, as well as certified from Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar Civil Defence.
The Firetex range of coatings can be applied throughout the year, according to a company spokesperson. During warmer periods, the Firetex water-based passive fire protection is ideal. FX5000, which is specifically designed to coat hollow sections and FX5002, a general-use water-based coating for fire protection, both offer 60 minutes of protection. Both coatings are TCEP (tri chloro ethyl phosphate) free, according to him. TCEP is a known carcinogen and is harmful to both the environment and the applicator.
For colder times of the year, the company has a range of solvent-based Firetex intumescent coatings that offer quick drying times with fire protection rating of 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes. FX1000 is designed for both I sections and hollow sections for 30 and 60-minute fire protection, while FX3000 offers 90 minutes fire protection for both I and hollow sections and FX7000 is designed to give both hollow and I sections 120 minutes of fire protection.
The coatings have been created keeping in mind the whole lifespan of the buildings. “Depending on service conditions, the coating system can give a life to first maintenance for up to 20 years,” concludes the spokesperson.