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Timber frame fire, Nottingham University, 12th September, 2014. creating penetrations. The minute you have a hole in the boarding system a fire can get through the hole, into the cavity, and a fire can spread very quickly. A cladding system works very well, as long as you can guarantee there are no gaps in it. There have been some major fires in the UK as a result of fire escaping from one compartment into another.”

Coating system Researchers in the Reactafire project are using innovative materials to develop a unique advanced coating system which will enhance structural fire protection for timber, using the latest advances in coatings technology. The chemicals used in the system must have some core properties. “They must have the ability to adhere to timber, and they must also have the ability to seal the surface, so that we don’t get water ingress. Then they have to delay the onset of char – in other words create a thermal barrier. The central concept of the chemical formulation is to delay the process of timber and wood charring in a fire, which will help the structure last longer,” outlines Clive Atkins. This will be done by forming a durable wood char layer, which will provide sufficient insulation to prevent further char damage and increase the time available to evacuate the building. “The coating system is based on new materials used in fire protection,” says Clive Atkins. The system is comprised of several coating layers, including a base coat and a top seal, reflecting the overall complexity of the project’s work. While the primary objective is to develop a system that helps timber survive in a fire for sixty minutes, Darren Atkins says the project is also considering other issues. “We aim to meet various different objectives along with the wider goal of achieving one hour fire protection. This includes things like the toxicity of the system and its appearance,” he outlines. The


main output of the project will be the base coat, but this will be combined with a topseal to make it ideal for external use. “Another important issue is having a primer and getting the correct adhesion to the substrate,” says Clive Atkins. “We’ve always thought of it as a holistic system and are experimenting with the various layers. We will be keeping the thickness to a minimum because we have to consider the needs of the designers and its ultimate application process.” The feedback from architects so far has been positive, with many keen to use the coating system and make greater use of timber in construction. Researchers are now moving towards the development stage of the project, testing the system to stringent standards and preparing further samples, with the objective of eventually bringing the system to the commercial marketplace. “Our aim is to develop a product that we can market throughout Europe, and eventually worldwide,” outlines Clive Atkins. Timber has long been neglected as a construction material, but with sustainability an increasingly important issue, Clive Atkins predicts that it will be more widely used in future. “The big paint manufacturers have targeted the steel market, which has meant that the timber industry has lagged behind. But timber is becoming a more fashionable product, and therefore that demands that we devote time and effort to it,” he stresses.

At a glance Full Project Title Advanced System for Wood Fire Protection (Reactafire) - Project number: 604842 Project Objectives Developing a unique fire protective system for structural timber and maximising its performance capability. Project Partners Fire Protection Coatings Ltd, UK • JW Ostendorf, Germany • Garvson AB, Sweden • Van Baerle AG, Switzerland • Energenics Europe Ltd, UK • PRA Trading Ltd, UK • SP Sveriges Tekniska Forskningsinstitut AB, Sweden • Ove Arup & Partners International Ltd, UK Contact Details Project Coordinator, Mr Clive Atkins Fire Protection Coatings Limited Unit 1-3 Highway Point 239 Torrington Avenue Coventry, CV4 9AP T: +44 (0) 24 7642 2200 E: fpcltd@btconnect.com W: www.reactafire.eu W: www.fireprotectioncoatings.com

Mr Clive Atkins

Mr Clive Atkins (Project Coordinator) has over 30 years’ experience in the fire protection industry. Clive was the former Chairman of the Association of Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) and is still a council member. He has been heavily involved in the Fire Safety Development Group (FSDG). Clive has also been Chairman of the Fire Protection Association (FPA) for Coventry and Solihull and was formerly a director at Nullifire Limited, the world renowned manufacturer of intumescent materials. Clive has also been heavily involved in committee work developing industrial guidance, including the ASFP Orange book which relates to the classification of fire retardant coating systems reaction in terms of fire performance.

The Reactafire Team

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (Grant Agreement No: 604842).


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