“Thanks Mitch, I will certainly use you again, everyone I’ve dealt with in your organisation, Felipe, Richard and yourself, have all been very helpful and courteous. Regards, Patrick O’Really”
The use of vermiculite fire doors for fireproofing, prevention, and retention in Australia is common and well-known. Vermiculite makes up the fireproof core used inside Spartan fire doors as a form of passive fire protection. It has a low density and excellent insulation properties.
What does vermiculite do?
Because of its fireproof and prevention properties, it has many purposes in construction. It can be used as a loose-fill insulation, sprayed on building boards and drywall, fireproofing structural steel and piping, and constructing fireplaces. As a product it is also very absorbent, making it an excellent packing material. Vermiculite even has agricultural uses, like peat, compost or soil to germinate seeds. The automotive industry also uses it in its brake pads because of its thermal resistance.
But what makes vermiculite an excellent door core material is its light, inert, and inorganic nature. Besides offering fire protection, it also offers soundproofing qualities and it is used in acoustic panels for Spartan acoustic doors as well.
Yet its fire retention properties outweigh all of its other possible uses. Here’s how it works. Exfoliated vermiculite retains moisture very well. In the event of a fire, the moisture turns to steam. The steam has a cooling effect on the steel substrate used in the door and the door frame. This delays the rise in temperature needed for combustion and therefore delays or stops the spread of fire. It also expands when heated, giving it a dual fire prevention and retention effect.
Vermiculite is also very durable. It cannot decay or rot while being strong and resilient. But yet it is not brittle or apt to crack, tear or peel. It can be frozen, thawed out and still retain all of its most necessary qualities. As a mineral used in major construction projects since 1946, its benefits are well-documented.
The benefits of vermiculite include:
- Fire retardant
- Fire retention
- Noise reduction
- Adaptable properties
Where does vermiculite come from?
Vermiculite has many uses besides fire doors. It is a hydrous, silicate mineral normally found where felsic and ultramafic rocks come into contact. South Africa, Brazil, the United States and China are top producers. The four countries produce about 90% of the product available worldwide. It is mined using open mining techniques where ore is detached from the other minerals and then screened and separated. As society has become more environmentally conscious, mining operations take significant care in minimising impact and restoring mined land to its natural state.
Fire Resistance Level and Fire Ratings
The term “fire rating” is very broad and can be misinterpreted and misused. Under the Building Code of Australia, the correct terminology is fire resistance level or FRL. While fire rating plays a part in the various parts of a FRL, the two are not the same or interchangeable. When it comes to a FRL, it is important to understand what the different components are, how they are determined and the role they play in passive fire protection, particularly in fire doors.
The technical expression of an FRL is:
Structural adequacy/integrity/insulation or SA/INT/INS
- Structural adequacy is defined as the measure of a tested assembly to be load bearing, or carry a predetermined load, during fire conditions. This measure is generally relevant for wall systems and not door & frame systems. Door & frame systems are said to have no load bearing ability.
- Integrity is the measure of a test assembly to restrict the passage of flame and hot gasses. It does not measure smoke leakage.
- Insulation is a measure of the temperature rise on the non-exposed, or non-fire side, of a fire resistant separating barrier.
The passing value is determined by the number of minutes in which there is no failure when tested in accordance with AS 1530 Part 4 fire test criteria.
So when you see the fire resistance level expressed as 60/60/60 it means that each element passed for that number of minutes.
SA = 60 minutes INT = 60 minutes INS = 60 minutes
The fire testing is conducted by taking a test specimen, representative of what will be used out in the field, and subject it to standard time versus temperature heating conditions and a standard pressure differential. The test measures the above elements of SA, INT, and INS to establish a FRL.
AS 1540 Part 4 outlines the passing deviations for the three categories and describes how to test each element.
Structural adequacy fails when the test specimen collapses or when the maximum rate of deflection exceeds prescribed limits.
Integrity fails when one of the following occurs:
- There is continuous flaming on the non-fire side of the test assembly
- Through gap into the furnace exceeds the prescribed sizes
- Ignition of the cotton wool pad test
It is typically the duration of integrity that is mislabeled “fire rating”. If a door had a fire rating of two hours, it is because the integrity portion of an FRL tested at 120 minutes, ie -/120/30. Note the structural adequacy is shown as “-” as doors and frames don’t have any structural adequacy.
Insulation fails when the thermocouples, or temperature measuring devices on the non-fire side of the test assembly, exceed the prescribed limits.
“Andrew was EXCELLENT to deal with” –
Jenny | Manager,
Patrick Connaughton Building
Hafele Door Hardware
Spartan Doors is excited to announce that we are now suppliers of Hafele door hardware.
Hafele is an international company providing Architectural and Furniture hardware, door hardware, fitting systems, and electronic locking systems. It has a long and rich history that began in 1923.
From all around the world, customers from the furniture industry, dealers, joiners, and cabinet makers, as well as architects, planners and builders rely on Hafele’s expertise and performance.
Hafele’s range of specialty hardware includes door handles, architectural hardware and sliding and folding door fittings.
Track and Sliding Sytems
Häfele’s specialty track and sliding doors systems allow for:
- The hanging of Large wooden, glass and steel sliding doors.
- Multiple leaf sliding door systems.
Construction of custom sliding doors that perfectly suit the style and requirements of your project has never been easier!
This exciting new partnership brings more high-quality products to the existing Spartan Doors range. Contact us today to learn more about how Hafele door hardware will suit your project.