Precast concrete is a noncombustible material that meets all fire-code provisions with no additional design or insulating material required. This resistance speeds construction, eliminates added trades from the site and provides an inherent level of protection that doesn’t need to be activated at the time of a fire.
Concrete doesn’t give off lethal smoke and maintains its structural integrity even when subjected to the most intense heat, unlike wood or steel structures. Designing with a total-precast system allows the durable structural framework and panels to work together to compartmentalize any fire, maximizing the time for detection, evacuation and suppression.
Noncombustible compartmentalization, combined with the inherently fire-resistant/tolerant structural frame that precast concrete provides, offers the best combination of economics and protection that owners and users seek. When this passive design combines with other safety measures, including sprinklers and early-warning detection systems, a balanced design approach is achieved.
A variety of precast concrete components can be used in creating a complete passive-design system for a building. Foremost among these are:
- Hollowcore slabs, which serve as combined floor/ceiling systems and also can be used as wall panels in either vertical or horizontal configurations.
- Wall panels, which offer high fire ratings and work with other components to create a noncombustible envelope. Insulated sandwich wall panels also can be used.
- Double tees, which can be used similar to hollow-core planks for roofs, ceilings, floors or wall panels.
- Columns and beams, which create a framework that will resist intense heat and will not add fuel to a fire.
A total-precast concrete system provides an effective design for minimizing fire damage and containing the effects within the smallest space possible for the longest time.
Precast concrete also eliminates the messy, time-consuming job of fire-proofing a building’s steel framing, as well as the need to patch and rework it after other trades finish at the project’s later stages. Precast members are naturally fire protected, because they will not burn.
For more information, contact a PCI Certified Manufacturer.