Build with ICFs for Fire Safety

Dec. 27, 2017 | by David Morris
Build with ICFs for Fire Safety

In addition to energy savings and quiet comfort, another reason to build insulated concrete forms is resistance to fire.

Most ICF walls have a 4-hour fire rating as opposed to 15 minutes for a comparable wood framed wall. ICF walls have been tested in fire conditions, up to 2000° F for up to four hours. The ICF walls did not experience a structural failure. However, wood-framed walls usually collapsed within 60 minutes.

Unlike wood, concrete does not burn. And unlike steel, concrete does not bend when it gets hot. Concrete withstands heat of several thousand degrees, not common in a typical house fire.

Of course, you must take reasonable precautions. Building codes require covering the inside face of exterior walls with a fire-resistant material such as EIFS, stucco, masonry, or fiber cement siding. Check with local codes for exterior fire protection requirements, which can vary with the type of exterior cladding used.

Concrete walls prevent fires from spreading, such as from an outdoor wildfire, into the interior of the building. The concrete walls also block enough heat from passing through the walls to start a fire on the interior for up to four hours. Wood-frame walls allowed flame and enough heat to start a fire within an hour.

The foam, usually expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, is manufactured with flame-retardant additives to reduce damage in fire. After reviewing studies of fire emissions, The National Research Council reported that emissions from polystyrene foams were no more toxic than those of typical softwoods used in home construction.

If you live in a fire-prone region, take a look at ICF construction for your home project.

This blog was developed by Fox Blocks. All posts, sponsored and un-sponsored have been reviewed and approved by the Sustainable Community Media Editorial Team to ensure quality, relevance/usefulness and objectivity.


Topics: Building Green, Insulated Concrete Forms - ICF

Companies: Fox Blocks



David Morris
A Detroit native, David T. Morris, LEED® Green Associate, used his drive for entrepreneurship, innovation & new product development to develop a patented product and later took a new building product to market. In 2012, he became U.S. East Regional Manager with Fox Blocks, a division of Airlite Plastics Company, managing ICF sales in seven states. Since 2006, David has delivered more than 140 IFA/ICF training seminars to contractors, plus another 120 presentations to architects and engineers. He is a featured speaker and SME on High-Performance Buildings, and his efforts have resulted in environmentally friendly construction being specified for residential, commercial, and institutional buildings throughout the country.

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