After experiencing a devastating fire, like many in California, you will have several things to think about – one of the main ones being the rebuilding process.
You will have to deal with insurance questions, deal with the demolition of the damaged structures, and – at some point – decide what materials you want to rebuild with. Rebuilding walls and fences with precast concrete will reduce your chances of having to deal with such a disaster again while preventing the spread of fire to your home. Here’s how…
Fire Resistance Ratings and Endurance
All municipalities have a building code and all those building codes will dictate some level of fire resistance. The fire resistance requirements will depend on things like the type of occupancy, the building size, and the building location.
Typically, the building code will use a fire-resistance rating. The fire-resistance ratings are developed from standard fire tests, where the structure is subjected to a fire of a specific temperature and duration.
The ratings will be given in hours. For example, the building department might require that a hospital have a fire-resistance rating of 4 hours.
Applying Building Codes to Precast Walls and Fences
Fire endurance, or the time before a major event such as a structural failure or a wall collapsing, has been gaining traction as an additional component of building codes.
Concrete performs exceptionally well when tested for fire endurance – making concrete an ideal material to rebuild fences and walls. Concrete does not burn and takes a very long time to break down in fires.
Moisture is one of the main factors that dictate how concrete will react during a fire. Leftover moisture occurs when concrete is not allowed to dry correctly, causing concrete to break down faster, especially if the concrete has a low water-cement ratio. Precast concrete is so tightly controlled during production that you can monitor moisture levels, making it the ideal material for a high fire endurance and resistance rating.
Designing with Fire Safety in Mind
When planning to rebuild after a fire, you will likely want to focus on a design with a high emphasis on fire safety. After all, you don’t want to deal with completely rebuilding again. In addition to methods to suppress a fire, you will need to focus on materials that will meet the following goals:
- Keep high heat, smoke, and toxic gas from spreading
- Keep fire from spreading from vegetation to structures
- Reduce fuel available
- Protect the structural integrity of the building
Rebuild with Precast Concrete
Precast concrete is ideal for meeting those fire safety design requirements. It is noncombustible and suffers very little damage during a fire.
Concrete also has a very slow rate of heat transfer, meaning heat takes a long time to travel through a concrete wall. This makes concrete an ideal material to protect structures and people from fire.
Concrete walls can handle up to four hours of extreme fire before it starts to break down. What this means, is if a fire does happen, you will have a lot less cleanup and a lot less to replace. Most of the time, concrete can even be reused after it survives a fire. In several of the recent California fires, the walls and fences built using American Precast Concrete were still standing even after being burned.
For more information about our precast concrete fences and walls, including alternatives to wood fencing, contact American Precast Concrete at